Book Critique - Covert Game (Ghostwalker Novel #14)
For review of all books under Ghostwalker series: Go here.
Stars: 3.5 / 5
Recommendation: A world of computers, love and family - what can go wrong, except an evil eye following these brave GhostWalker Men and Women who once again face it and come out winning.
Covert Game is the fourteenth book in the GhostWalker Series by Christine Feehan published in March of 2018. The central plot revolves around Gino "Phantom" Mazza - member of GhostWalker Team Four - and Zara Hightower - one of the orphan girls from Dr. Whitney's Group Four. This book also marked the 75th book by Christine Feehan, a remarkable achievement by Christine.
GhostWalkers are a group of women and men who are sent on special missions. They have enhanced 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. 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. There are a total of four teams of GhostWalker Men serving in various areas of law enforcement and armed forces and four groups 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 - finds 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 or more girls added as years progressed, 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, Iris "Flame" Johnson, Briony "Bri" Jenkins, Marigold "Mari" Smith, Saber Wynter, Tansy Meadows, Rose Patterson, Azamie "Thorn" Yoshiie, La Poirve "Pepper", Cayenne and Bellisia "Bella" Adams. The stories in the series follow these men and women.
We met Gino "Phanton" Mazza in Spider Game, with not so much as a noise or movement. He has been so very silent almost in the shadows that I was surprised that Christine sprung a story for him so soon. As for our heroine, Zara, we heard about her through Bellisia in the previous book Power Game, in which we read that she was sent away on a mission by Dr. Whitney. And now we have their story.
Zara Hightower, a highly trained spy and a GhostWalker, is sent on a mission into the den of the paranoid Chinese crime-lord and billionaire to whom Violet had sold out the Team Four in Power Game. She was determined to help the GhostWalkers anyway she can, but gets captured by the billionaire and is left for torture. However, no GhostWalker is ever left behind and Team Four accept the mission to rescue her. What Gino doesn’t expect is that he would be rescuing himself in the process, from a life that has been too lonely and too harsh. Where both Zara and Gino will go from there is the rest of the story, which of course includes various covert operations in annihilating their enemies.
In this plot, Christine goes all technology and computers, leading the readers through the world of robots, computers and artificial intelligence all along making the GhostWalkers walk through covert missions. Some of the information she mentions during the course blows your mind off in understanding how far we as humans have come with AI, and not too far from having robots live along-side humans just like in Transformers or any other such similar Sci-Fi movies.
The recent stand-off that had happened between India and Pakistan, one of the Indian wing commander was captured by Pakistan. Though assurances were given by Pakistan government that he would be released with no harm and that they were treating him well, the 60 hrs he spent captured by them were nightmarish and torturing for everyone in the country and especially his family. However, what actually went with him there and how he could have been treated must have been much more horrendous to him. And he was not even a spy. And we can't imagine how much more it would be if he was a spy.
Thankfully, he was returned to India without major injuries. But that wasn’t the case with Zara and she was with the Chinese crime lord for only 24 hrs. And the torture that she is subjected to assuming she was a spy gave me shivers and shudders, and literally made me to sit up and look around my room just to make sure I wasn’t there with her or the torturer wasn’t with me here. Christine had made it look and feel very very real, and sadly for my very vivid imagination that didn’t help from just reading it and forgetting it.
What Zara went through also reminded me of another of Christine's heroine - Elle Drake from Drake Sisters Series - who was also captured and kept by a very cruel human trafficking crime lord and had subjected her to a lot of torture. Just thinking of that book takes me to those scenes and gives me shudders all over again.
The GhostWalkers face a new enemy now other than Dr. Whitney, although they have successfully wiped off Violet Smythe - the senator who sold off the GhostWalker men and women many times over, but unsuccessful at it. And that means more ways we see how their battles occur and what are thrown at them.
Christine has the antagonist and the protagonist so similar in every way but with one difference - conscious. It almost makes the reader worry for our heroine if she chose the right person. I remember she used a similar concept in one of her books in the Carpathian Series as well.
Action-packed with elements of love, sex and family values and embedded inside the world of computers and AI is what this next installment in Christine Feehan's book in the GhostWalker Series is all about. Entertaining at the same time giving you shudders at the gorier parts, yet luring the readers once again into the world of GhostWalkers for a very adventurous ride. If you take it, don’t fail to enjoy it.
1) Plot Reveals:
a. Shylah - the third orphan girl from the facility where Bellisia and Zara come from - is believed to be in Cheng's den just as Bellisia and Zara executing some covert mission for Dr. Whitney.
b. Cayenne indicated that she was pregnant in Spider Game. However, neither in Power Game nor in this book we see any signs of her being pregnant at all. So was she or wasn’t she?
a. In Ruthless Game, Fargo, one of Dr. Whitney's super soldiers in his breeding program facility was paired with one of the orphan girls in the facility and she had tried to almost kill him. I wonder who that orphan girl is.
b. A slight confusion I have as a reader regarding who is living in Wyoming. In Ruthless Game, Christine mentioned that some of them were settling in the mountains of Wyoming. But neither Team One or Team Two are settled there. So who is living in Wyoming?
c. GhostWalker Team Two is also sent out an mission at the same that Team One is sent in Samurai Game. Wonder if Christine will have a story from that arc for Team Two sometime in future.
d. In Viper Game we see that Pepper was trained with five other girls for ten years in a facility as soldiers. So was she part of the breeding program that Dr. Whitney, part of the remaining three girls that escaped?
e. We don’t see anything about the last two brothers of the Fontenots in either Night Game or in Viper Game and subsequent Team Four books. Who could they be?
f. In Spider Game, Cayenne hints at two other labs with women and children that Dr. Whitney is running while Violet indicates about six other labs where Dr. Whitney has his experiments for either termination or conducting more experiments on the Super Soldiers.
g. In Power Game, Bellisia keeps wanting her sisters of heart from the facility they were held in, also to have the same kind of life that she is having with Ezekiel. In this we see Zara, one of the orphans from Bellisia's facility. And am guessing the remaining five girls will be the center of next few stories - either them paired with Team Four Men or Men from other three teams.
h. In Power Game, Christine leaves an open plot about a piece of land that the team Four is unable to locate owner of. And Joe is obsessed with that piece of land. I am sure somehow Christine would tie that to Joe when his story comes.
i. GhostWalker Team One, Army Rangers and Green Berets; first introduced in Shadow Game - under direct command of General Theodore Ranier. They make their base in the mountains of Montana along-side Team Two as of Predatory Game.
i. Headed by Captain Ryland "King" Miller - His story was told in Shadow Game, and marries Lily Whitney, adopted daughter of Dr. Peter Whitney, at the end of that book. They have a baby boy - Daniel Ryland Miller - in Predatory Plot.
ii. Nicolas "Nico" Trevane - His story is told in Mind Game, and marries Dahlia Le Blanc at the end of that book.
iii. Raoul "Gator" Fontenot - His story is told in Night Game, and marries Iris "Flame" Johnson at the end of that book.
iv. Kadan Montague, Ryland's second-in-command. His story is told in Murder Game, and marries Tansy Meadows at the end of that book.
v. Sam "Knight" Johnson - His story is told in Samurai Game, and marries Azami "Thorn" Yoshiie at the end of that book.
vi. The rest of the team consists of Jeff Hollister; Ian McGillicuddy; Tucker Addison; Jonas "Smoke" Harper; Kyle "Ratchet" Forbes; Tom "Shark" Delaney, Sr. - wrongly enhanced by Dr. Whitney and thrown away, rescued by Kadan in Murder Game.
vii. Jeff Hollister goes through a very tough recovery when he was brutally experimented by Dr. Whitney in Shadow Game. I would like to see Christine pen a story for him soon more so because he is staying inside the reader's mind ever so quietly.
j. GhostWalker Team Two, Paramilitary Ghostwalkers Team (Navy SEALs) working with NCIS; first introduced in Mind Game; under direct command of Rear Admiral Frank Henderson. They make their base in the mountains of Montana where Jack and Ken already reside as of Predatory Game.
i. Headed by Logan "Max" Maxwell.
ii. Jack Norton, oldest of the Norton Twins. His story is told in Conspiracy Game, and marries Briony "Bri" Jenkins, at the end of that book. They have twins, Jeremiah Ken Norton and Noah Jack Norton, as of Ruthless Game.
iii. Ken Norton, the second Norton Twin. His story is told in Deadly Game, and marries Marigold "Mari" Smith at the end of that book. Mari is pregnant with twins as of Samurai Game.
iv. Jesse "Jess" Calhoun - His story is told in Predatory Game, and marries Saber Wynter at the end of that book.
v. The rest of the team consists of Martin Howard; Neil Campbell; Trace Aikens; Antonio Martinez (first introduced in Street Game)
vi. When the GhostWalker Team Two was introduced in Mind Game, Christine had mentioned one of the members as Todd Aikens. But in Deadly Game, she names him Trace Aikens. Is he Todd or Trace? Had she named him first as Todd and then later changed it to Trace? Or are there both Todd and Trace?
k. GhostWalker Team Three: Marine Force Recon Urban Warfare Team; first introduced in Predatory Game; under direct command of Sergeant Major Theodore Griffen. 9 men and two women who grew up together to form a family by heart, joined by a newbie now. They make their base in San Francisco as of Ruthless Game.
i. Headed by Mack "Top" McKinley. His story is told in Street Game and marries Jaimie Fielding at the end of that book, one of the girls they grow up with.
ii. Kane Cannon - second-in-command to Mack. His story is told in Ruthless Game and marries Rose Patterson at the end of that book. They have a baby boy, Sebastian Kane Cannon, in the middle of the plot.
iii. The rest of the team consists of Javier Enderman; Gideon Carpenter; Brian Hutton; Jacob Princeton; Ethan Myers; Marc Lands; Lucas Atherton; Rhianna "Rhee" Bonds; newbie Paul Mangan.
iv. Brian Hutton, the first member we met in Predatory Game had been interested romantically in Patsy Calhoun, Jesse Calhoun's - GhostWalker from Team Two - sister in that plot. Is he paired with Patsy? But Patsy isn't a GhostWalker? Or is she?
v. Javier and Rhianna seems to have a history between them as of Ruthless Game.
l. GhostWalker Team Four: Air Force Pararescue Special Forces Team; first mentioned in Predatory Game; more revealed in Street Game; rest of the team is introduced in Viper Game and Spider Game; make base in Louisiana bayous around Gator and Wyatt's home in New Orleans. Under direct command of Major General Tennessee Milton.
i. Headed by Joe Spagnola - In Power Game, it is clear that Joe had paired himself to Violet despite her constant betrayals. And she almost kills him in that plot. Although he also shows interest in Shylah when Bellisia mentions about the other women in the compound she was held. So is Joe paired with Shylah as well? Whoever his heroine will be, I wish Christine will write a plot beating all the plots out there for Joe with a GhostWalker woman who is much more than Violet whom he wanted to save. He definitely deserves a superior plot.
ii. Wyatt Fontenot - Raoul's brother. His story is told in Viper Game and marries Pepper at the end of that plot. They are biological parents of identical triplets produced in-vitro by Dr. Whitney - Ginger, Thym, Cannelle "Elle". She is pregnant as of this plot.
iii. Trap Dawkins - genius scientist. His story is told in Spider Game and marries Cayenne in the plot.
iv. Ezekiel "Zeke" "Hunter" Fortunes - Captain, Doctor and oldest of the Fortunes brothers. His story is told in Power Game and he marries Bellisia "Bella" Adams at the end of that plot.
v. Rest of the team consists of Malichai Fortunes; Mordichai Fortunes; Draden "Sandman" Freeman; Diego Campo; Rubin Campo; Gerald Perkins & Adam Cox - Bellisia's handlers while living at Whitney's facility, now joined Team Four as of Power Game.
vi. Diego and Rubin have one sister, Star, who had joined the nuns after the tragedy that befell their family.
m. 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" Johnson; Briony "Bri" Jenkins; Marigold "Mari" Smith; Tansy Meadows; Rose Patterson; Jonquille; Laurel; Camellia "Cami".
i. More about them is shown in Deadly Game
1) Ivy, supposedly killed by Dr. Whitney to teach the orphans girls a lesson;
2) Cami and two others live in a secret compound that Dr. Whitney uses for breeding program along with Mari and Rose. In the escape attempt all of them spread away. Mari and Rose's stories have been told. Now waiting for the others to speak.
n. Group Two of Dr. Peter Whitney's Orphans: First introduced in Predatory Game. It is clear that although Thorn was later on isolated with Saber in a different facility, she was with the others in the Group One in the beginning, per Samurai Game - Saber Wynter; Azami "Thorn" Yoshiie.
o. Group Three of Dr. Peter Whitney's Orphans: First introduced in Viper Game; originally developed in France but later kept at the facility in the Louisiana bayous for termination; mostly considered rejects by Dr. Whitney: Le Poivre "Pepper" and her triplets - Ginger, Thym and Cannelle "Elle"; Cayenne
p. Group Four of Dr. Peter Whitney's Orphans: First introduced in this plot; seven of the ten remain - Bellisia "Bella" Adams; Zara Hightower; Scarlet; Blue; Cat; Amaryllis; Shylah
q. Dr. Peter Whitney is shown to be alive as well as psychic as of Deadly Game with more devious plots in his mind. As the books progress, we see the various kinds of horrific experiments he had done on the GhostWalkers Men and Women - tracking them with a computer chip in their body; pairing the Orphan girls not only with one of the four Ghostwalker teams, but his personal enhanced team that he created using the rejected psychic candidates as part of his breeding program; injecting them with Zenith, a fast-healing medicine but with serious repercussions; experimenting with animal genes and DNA; zombie soldiers with a bonish exoskeleton.
r. GhostWalker's enemies who are becoming more and more dangerous:
i. Dr. Peter Whitney's allies in his devious plots - Jacob Abrams, a loaded banker, and Senator Freeman's father, Andrew Freeman.
ii. Before Violet Smythe-Freeman was killed, she made allies to eliminate the GhostWalkers with animal DNA - Senator Crane from Mississippi; Senator Delgato from Florida; Senator Jenson from California and General Ivan Newman - Air Force's military service chief.
iii. Bernard Lee Cheng - billionaire of The Cheng Company, a notorious and paranoid criminal.