Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Deadlock by James Byrne
Series: Dez Limerick #2
Published by Minotaur Books on August 8, 2023
Amazon, Audible, Libro.fm, Barnes & Noble, Apple
Desmond Aloysius Limerick ("Dez" to his friends and close personal enemies) is a man with a shadowy past, certain useful hard-won skills, and, if one digs deep enough, a reputation as a good man to have at your back. Now retired from his previous life, Dez is just a bloke with a winning smile, a bass guitar, and bullet wounds that paint a road map of past lives.
Jaleh Swann, a business journalist hot on the trail of an auditor who was mugged and killed, lands in the hospital just one day after her Portland apartment is ransacked. When Jaleh’s sister, Raziah, reaches out to an old friend for help, Dez has no choice but to answer. The Swann sisters have been pulled into a dizzying web of cover-ups and danger. At the center lies an insidious Oregon-based tech corporation, Clockjack, which has enough money and hired guns to silence just about anyone—including this rag-tag trio. Luckily, Dez’s speciality is not just to open doors, but keep them open—and protect those working to expose Clockjack’s secrets.
More stands in the way of the truth than just one corporation. When hired thugs come to the finish the job and attack the Swann sisters at the hospital, Dez does what he does best. Now, the two captured men (and the corpse Dez left behind) attract the attention of not just Clockjack, but of the Portland police, the D.E.A, and the U.S. Marshalls. Dez and the Swann sisters are on the run from powers beyond their control and means.
Dez is an interesting character with a lot of education and skills. He has worked for various governments as a gatekeeper. He is educated in physics and electrical engineering, but also by life’s experiences in various spots around the world. His irreverent attitude is tied up in his own moral code. He sometimes has compassion. He’s an equalizer type of guy for the underdogs who are in trouble they didn’t start.
Dez is retired now and is visiting California. He’s playing music on piano and guitar. A young woman, who is a talented musician he sometimes accompanies, Raziah, calls him for help when her sister is attacked and nearly killed. Dez jumps into action to protect the sisters and help them figure out why she was targeted. She is a business reporter who did a piece on her good friend who recently died, and he was doing an audit of Clockwork. They don’t start knowing his skills but are quickly brought up to speed.
Dez, with very little help from the authorities, puts himself wholeheartedly into protecting the sisters, while figuring out the bad guys and fending off attempts to kill him. The action is fast-paced and like the first book, The Gatekeeper, Dez seems nearly insane for the risks he takes on his own. He gets injured plenty and luckily he does have some friends and even a friendly enemy. People from the first book are now friends who come to his aid.
Deadlock is a frightening example of what happens when the world is caught up with technology and political power to the detriment of ordinary people. The bad guys get richer and more powerful. It takes an extraordinary effort and skills to stop them. I really enjoyed watching Dez do his thing. A few threads are open which I hope will come to life in the next book in the Dez Limerick series.
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