The Wake-Up
Robert Ferrigno
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The Wake-Up

Robert Ferrigno
272 pages
August 2005
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars
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When everyone in a safe house is murdered, ex-Delta Force Frank Thorpe is fired from his “shop”, the deal gone very bad and a killer on the loose. Thorpe is on his way from California to Miami when a rude businessman knocks down a young Latino boy at the airport, scattering all his candy and gum without a backward glance. Incensed, Frank cancels his Miami vacation to find the guy and make him apologize for his thoughtless transgression.

Douglas Meachum deserves a lesson in manners he won't soon forget, a "wake-up," as it's known in the trade. After accidentally meeting Gina Meachum, Thorpe rethinks his aggressive approach, but by this time he has involved Missy Riddenhauer, wife of a surfer-drug lord, Clark, who runs a huge meth operation.

The Riddenhauers are a deadly couple who employ a couple of soulless enforcers, Arturo and Vlad. Once he's tripped over Clark's operation, Thorpe can’t ignore it, so he follows his natural inclinations, posing as an insurance agent to give himself access to an extensive data base. He’s soon busy tracking the Riddenhauers and keeping an eye out for the Engineer, mastermind of the safe house massacre, all in sunny California, from Newport Beach to Corona del Mar, decidedly upscale neighborhoods hiding an excess of criminal activity.

The crank wars heat up, and a renegade is knocking over Clark's meth labs in Riverside, revealing the dark side of paradise. Missy and Clark have the habit of removing everyone and everything in their path, especially their immediate competition, thanks to the two terrors, Arturo and Vlad. The coast glows with power and creature comforts, but Riverside is Crank Central.

Thorpe has a clear and concise agenda as well as extraordinary determination, but even for Frank, juggling miscreants gets dangerous. The Engineer is tracking him through the internet, hoping for a rematch. Having underestimated his foe the first time, Frank isn't about to make the same mistake twice, but he's kept moving by accelerating events, planning to deal with Doug Meachum’s manners later, hopefully with less collateral damage.

With generous portions of secret agencies, rogue agents, the DEA, and shady meth-cookers, Ferrigno mixes a heady batch of ex-military patriots gone mercenary in the drug underground, where one spark can ignite a fire ball: “We’re not saving the world anymore... we’re just showing off.”

Thorpe is in his element, with few resources and depending on familiar contacts, irritating some powerful players along the way. Darkly humorous and edgy, Ferrigno, author of The Horse Latitudes, is at his contemporaneous best. Non-stop action drives the plot and Thorpe takes no prisoners.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2005

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