Aparna (inspirethoughts) wrote,

Book Critique 2016 – 02/22/2016: Conspiracy Game (Ghostwalker Series #4)

3/13/2019: Updated the review and added Spoiler Alerts section.

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For review of all books under Ghostwalker series: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: A definite pick if you are into paranormal romance with a touch of eroticism and the unbelievable.

Conspiracy Game is the fourth installment in the Ghostwalker Series by Christine Feehan and published in October 2006. The plot revolves around Jack Norton - GhostWalker from Team Two comprising of Navy SEALS - and Briony "Bri" Jenkins - one of Dr. Peter Whitney's Orphan Girls from Group One.

Ghostwalkers are a group of women and men who are sent on special missions. They have enhances psychic and physical abilities along with genetic modifications, using in some cases not just human genes but all kinds of animal and plant genes. However every Ghostwalker would need an "anchor" to draw back the psychic backlash, especially that would instigate violence. They are complex characters trying to live with their enhanced abilities and at the same time fight against the corrupt people around them, executing their missions successfully. So far we are introduced to two teams of GhostWalkers Men serving in various areas of law enforcement and armed forces and one group of Orphan Girls on whom Dr. Peter Whitney had experimented. He has paired each of his GhostWalker men with the women in the hopes to breed the next generation of GhostWalkers.

In Shadow Game we had seen that Dr. Lily Whitney-Miller, married to Captain Ryland "King" Miller - head of Team One - find the details of the Orphan Girls that Dr. Peter Whitney had experimented on along with Lily. Now adopted or held in a different lab or on their own, Lily and Ryland are determined to find those girls now women, rescue them and provide a safe haven. So far they have rescued Dahlia Le Blanc and Iris "Flame" Johnson.

Although we were briefly introduced to GhostWalker Team Two in the second book, Mind Game, we get to see more of two members of that team in this plot. In the previous book, Night Game, we had seen that Ken Norton is captured by the rebels in Congo while rescuing a scientist and his team. His twin brother Jack Norton and a few of his team members along with Nicolas Trevane and  Sam Johnson from GhostWalker Team One head to Congo to rescue Ken. But in the process Jack Norton gets hit and lost from the team. Just as I had expected, Christine spins her next book around the Norton twins, focusing first on Jack Norton.

That is where this book begins. Jack gets captured by the rebels and endures the same torture that his brother had gone through. Eventually Jack escapes from the rebels in Congo, reaching Kinshasa where a Navy SEAL he once knew was performing a high-flying act with his family - The Flying Five. But he finds coming across Briony "Bri" Jenkins, the sister of the four Jenkins brothers and the fifth member of the Flying Five. Nothing made sense to either Jack or Bri as to so many coincidences when none should be there. Cautious of the events around them, wary of each other, still fighting the known at times unknown enemy, Jack and Bri drift towards each other, all the while unraveling the Conspiracy surrounding them.

The amount of torture that Jack and Ken Norton go through at the hands of the rebels Major Keon Biyoya is unfathomable. Biyoya has a little more time with Ken than Jack so the torture goes a notch up. Reading it gave me shudders all through my body and for days I couldn’t take them out of my mind. I could not believe that someone could so much harm to a human being.

A month before I had written my original review of this, I had an opportunity to meet Christine Feehan in person. So, during the course of our conversation I had asked her I had to ask her if the torture was for real - the peeling of the skin, the precise two-inch cuts all over the body. And Christine mentioned that it is for real. She had read a bunch of transcripts on the tortures soldiers endured that are really heartbreaking and one of them was this kind of torture. I couldn’t believe it even after she told me. Here is the full interview with her.

The first time around when I read the book, I didn’t remember that Jack went through the same torture as Ken. Only Ken's torture stuck in my head. But now that I am reading it again, I see both brothers endured the same torture, just Ken's was a notch up. Perhaps that is why I remember Ken's more than Jack's.

The war room strategies that the GhostWalker teams come up for their missions are very similar to what the Carpathians do in the Dark Series, however, yet very different. Christine must have studied several battle strategies and war room theories to come up with them.

In Night Game, it was clear that Flame Johnson, now Flame Fontenot, was antagonistic towards Dr. Lily Whitney-Miller, due to whatever happened when they were held by Dr. Peter Whitney in the lab for experiments. However, in this plot, Christine showed us that they had patched up their differences, in fact not only working together but also showing a camaraderie infused with humor. Pleasantly happy to see them all together again, as a reader.

Christine goes in detailed length to explain the scientific work behind gene enhancement using animal and plant genes and also the technology with regards to hardware and software in computers. That would involve tremendous amount of research. Simply mind blowing that Christine put together untested recipes into her plot that could very well be our future, but slightly distant.

Christine has the Norton twins living in the wilderness and mountains of Montana. The place she describes is something that I would like to get-away to for a little while but not live there forever. However, her tale on how the Norton twins and Briony live there is far too tempting to resist.

Jack Norton's undying love towards his brother Ken and later to towards Briony, his loyalty towards his team, his capability to protect anyone he takes under his wing - all characters captured my heart as a reader towards Jack the second time around I read the book. Yet, I can't help to feel for Ken, the way he just accepts his life, faces his torture head-on and living with whatever life gave him. Jack is also similar, but Ken is whom I craved to know more about and read soon.

The agenda that Dr. Peter Whitney has with regards to the GhostWalker men and women, the careless nature towards the women especially by literally and figuratively keeping them prisoners and all along getting his missions executed - as every layer of Whitney is peeled, shudders and shivers increased in my body. I can't even think of my enemy to be at the mercy of Dr. Whitney. As a reader, I want to just kill him. However, as a writer, Christine perhaps as a much better plan for Whitney. One just have to wait and see.

With this plot Christine gives the reader a lot about on how much a human body, mind and soul can endure before they shatter completely. An education on some of the military deeds that happen around the world and the hidden agendas behind them. One gets amazed at how a single force can use power, knowledge, money and authority to cause life-threatening and sometimes global incidents. My mind blew at the complex and hidden plots within the plots. Hats off to Christine to pull all of them together and yet not have the reader lost in that web. Of course the chemistry, attraction and erotic side of Jack and Briony was fun to read too.

Do pick it up if you are curious about the fate of Ghostwalkers and what happens next.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Plot Reveals:
a. Interesting that Christine calls these GhostWalker books as Game Books according to her thank you note at the beginning. Even with the Carpathian books, she calls them as Dark Books.
b. Bri Jenkins belongs to a circus act called The Flying Five. She and her four brothers - Jebediah, Tyrel, Seth and Ruben - performed the act. She is pregnant with twins by Jack. 
c. Briony has a twin sister, Marigold, who is held by Dr. Peter Whitney in one of his secret labs where he is continuing his experiments. Briony along with the Norton twins think to rescue her. A neat segue into the next plot by Christine.
d. Jack and Ken Norton, and Kadan Montague have the Ghostwalker Crest and Symbol tattooed on them with ink that required special vision to be seen.

2) Sub-Plots:
a. In the first book, Shadow Game, we were introduced to Dr. Brandon Adams - GhostWalkers own doctor who takes care of them as well as keeps them safe from Dr. Peter Whitney and his rogue super humans.
b. GhostWalker Team One, Army Rangers and Army Green Berets; first introduced in the first book, Shadow Game - under direct command of General Theodore Ranier
   i. Headed by Captain Ryland "King" Miller, can walk in dreams and also psychically link his team. His story was told in Shadow Game, and he marries Lily Whitney, one of the orphans from Group One and adopted daughter of Dr. Peter Whitney, at the end of that book. Lily is pregnant as of the third book Night Game.
  ii. Nicolas "Nico" Trevane can walk in dreams and is an anchor. His story is told in Mind Game, and he marries Dahlia Le Blanc, one of the orphans from Group One, at the end of that book.
  iii. Raoul "Gator" Fontenot can control animals among other powers and is an anchor. His story is told in Night Game, and he marries Iris "Flame" Johnson, one of the orphans from Group One, at the end of that book.
  iv. The other team members consists of Kadan Montague, his second-in-command and also an anchor; Sam Johnson can move objects; Jeff Hollister can walk in dreams, move things and levitate; Ian McGillicuddy can sense danger coming; Tucker Addison; Jonas Harper; Kyle Forbes
c. GhostWalker Team Two, Paramilitary Navy SEALs working with NCIS; first introduced in the second book, Mind Game; under direct command of Rear Admiral Frank Henderson - headed by Logan "Max" Maxwell; Jesse Calhoun; Todd Aikens; Martin Howard, Neil Campbell; Ken Norton
  i. As of Mind Game plot, Jesse Calhoun suffers immense torture, losing his ability to use his legs from below knees, confined to wheelchair. After getting treated for his torture decides to go back to his home town to run his radio station.
d. Group One of Dr. Peter Whitney's Orphans: Twelve orphan girls on whom he had conducted his experiments to make them psychically enhanced - Lily Whitney-Miller, the only girl he had adopted for himself; Dahlia Le Blanc; Iris "Flame"; Tansy; Jonquille; Laurel; Rose
e. The Fontenot family is introduced in Night Game - Raoul's three brothers (Wyatt, ) and his grandmother, Nonny. Wyatt is shown to have romantic feelings towards the lost and found girl, Joy Chiasson.
f. Dr. Peter Whitney who thought be dead in the first book Shadow Game, is most likely alive with very dangerous ulterior motives in his mind. As the books progress, we see the various kinds of horrific experiments he had done on the GhostWalkers - tracking them with a computer chip in their body; pairing the Orphan girls not only with one of the two GhostWalker teams, but other enhanced men who never passed the psych evaluation and are cruel as they could come; didn’t matter if the girls liked the men or not but he wanted the men to mate with them to produce super soldier babies.

3) Grammatical / Historical / Location / Character Errors:
a. On Pg. 25, Christine writes "..once gain feeling unseen eyes on her." What made me pause was that I didn’t read anything earlier to this statement that she was already feeling someone watching her. Was it just a carry on for her feelings since she was a kid that someone was watching? Or did Christine mis-entered the scenario?
b. On Pg. 121, Line 19, it should be "He thought he knew her…."
c. On Pg. 248, Line 13 from bottom, it should be "…right at the moment…"
d. On Pg. 276, Line 7, it should be "…crawled to reach the…"
Tags: books, critique by amateur, ghostwalker series, reviews

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