Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“She’s hunting arms smugglers. But who is hunting her?”
Alison Morton has stunned me once again with book two in the Mélisende Thrillers series! Double Pursuit is the perfect follow-up to book one, Double Identity, and if anything, this one is even more explosive! The plot has been so suspenseful and gripping, and even after a second book, I’m craving a third. I’m so thrilled to be joining the blog tour for this book – make sure you check out the other reviews and excerpts from all these brilliant book bloggers!
About the book
One dead body, two badly injured operatives and five crates of hijacked rifles.
In Rome, former French special forces intelligence analyst Mélisende des Pittones is frustrated by obnoxious local cops and ruthless thugs. Despite the backing of the powerful European Investigation and Regulation Service, her case is going nowhere. Then an unknown woman tries to blow her head off.
As Mel and fellow investigator Jeff McCracken attempt to get a grip on the criminal network as well as on their own unpredictable relationship, all roads point to the place she dreads – the arid and remote African Sahel – where she was once betrayed and nearly died. Can Mel conquer her fear as she races to smash the network and save her colleague’s life?
Once again, Morton’s perfect synopsis made me so eager to jump straight into this book, and after loving book one so much, I was desperate to be reunited with Mel and Jeff! I was a little concerned that I’d feel lost as it had been so long since I read that first book, but the author has done a stellar job of drawing second time readers back in, as well as giving new readers a bit of a character introduction. So far, it seemed the author had intended this book to be read perfectly fine as a standalone, but I’d urge you to read the first book too! We begin by hearing about Mel’s latest assignment; working undercover as a married couple with her colleague, something Jeff is understandably furious about! However, as I’ve learnt, Mel’s assignments are full on and action packed, and even that first introductory chapter piqued my interest and had my mind racing about what we’d uncover this time. The start felt like the perfect ‘welcome back’ to the series, and I was instantly plunged into a feeling of excitement and intrigue.
I loved reading the conversations between Mel and her colleague, Andreas. They seem perfectly matched for their assignment, and it was brilliant seeing how they go from pretend couple one minute, to bad-ass interrogators the next. Their relationship had been written really well, and Mel’s wit always managed to give me a smile! We don’t have long to wait before there’s a gruesome discovery, bringing up so many questions and creating a much more complex scenario. I love how the author so effortlessly creates these gripping moments, with those mysterious circumstances pulling us into the book and making us feel like we’re in on the investigation ourselves! I could feel my pulse quicken at times as the action unfolds, and I loved how the author instantly brings us that familiar fast-paced feel very early on, and it felt so so good to experience! I knew I was going to love this book just as much as the last, and the storyline was already shaping up to be something pretty epic!
“You’re not dealing with cocktail parties and nice clean trade negotiations. This is where we work with hatred, poverty of spirit, wretchedness and just plain viciousness.”
I remember the author’s description being great in the last book, but I was seriously impressed with just how easy it was to imagine yourself in any one place, how real it felt as Mel rushed along narrow streets or explored bustling town centres. This description was equally as brilliant as Mel receives a proposition from a mysterious man who seems to know an awful lot about her and her past. There was never a dull moment as we moved from chapter to chapter, and I was racing through them, not wanting to miss out on any of the action! I was thrilled as Jeff McCracken returns to the investigation and I’d forgotten just how much I loved this character. He had a very unique sense of humour and was the perfect partner and interrogator to join Mel as she searches for answers. The dialogue used is constantly exceptional; Mel can be a very scary woman when she wants to be, and I know I wouldn’t want to mess with her! We slowly get answers which lead us onto bigger and more exciting things, but the road was becoming even more dangerous…
Speaking of which, Mel and McCracken have a very near miss when a bomb explodes, leaving them injured and lucky to be alive. It was clear that whoever had rigged this explosive did so with the intention to kill. As terrifying as this scene was to read, it was absolutely brilliant and written so so well. The paragraphs were filled with some of the best description, the suspense had me on the edge of my seat! It was still unclear who they were dealing with at this point, but what was clear was that they were dangerous, unpredictable and ready to strike at any given moment. I felt like I needed to protect Mel at all costs, but I also knew that she was more than capable of not only looking after herself, but also capable of bringing these guys down! The start of this book was so incredibly strong; the author held my attention effortlessly with her words and I already loved the plot and where it was heading. I couldn’t wait to get stuck into the rest of the book!
Just when I thought Mel was safe for a while, those thoughts went out the window as she finds herself face to face with a gun. There was something really satisfying about how the author surprises us with scenes like this. Sometimes, there’s the perfect build up with some incredible action scenes to follow, and others, they’re completely out of the blue and so unpredictable that I wasn’t sure who would live to see the end of the book at times! I think this is definitely one of the author’s many strengths and I hoped there was more to come. Mel is a tough cookie, but she’s only human, and I really appreciated the author’s input of emotion from this character. All her life experiences cause her emotions to overflow at this point in the story, the woman who tries to blow her head off with that gun simply being the final straw. I felt for her so much here, but despite all this, I knew she’d stand up, brush it all off, and continue on with her investigation. She was still the best and only person for the job!
From an attack on the hospital where Mel and Jeff were located to a potential child abduction, the drama continues to unfold in the most gripping and suspenseful way. One of their prisoners is facing years in jail for multiple charges, but was he and his partner the only people who were trying to take them down? I had a big feeling that the danger was far from over, that this was just the beginning. Plenty of new characters are introduced here which really solidified the plot, and I was really enjoying Joanna’s input in the investigation. She seemed a great character to introduce at the right time, and I think Mel was enjoying the female company for a change. The layers of mystery and intrigue that the author builds up over time really kept me thinking about the story when I wasn’t reading, and had me thinking about all the possibilities the rest of the book could hold! Things felt genuinely exciting – how much longer could Mel, Jeff and Joanna stay safe for?
“Mel leant against the wall. She brushed a tear away. Her whole body felt numb. It must be a reaction or tiredness. How hard Jeff had looked at her, as if she were his enemy.”
I really liked hearing more about Mel and Jeff’s relationship. To Mel, it sometimes felt like she was fussing over him too much as a girlfriend and ensuring he was getting enough rest after his injuries from the Rome blast. However, at times, she feels like she’s trying to detach herself from him and treat him as a colleague for the sake of the investigation. The pressures of these things were understandable, but balancing all of this alongside the investigation itself would surely take its toll eventually. It felt as though the author has gone much deeper in many aspects of the book, from the characters and how they interact, to a complex and unpredictable storyline. Everything continued to work so well though, and I was confident she would perfect it! Taking down this criminal network was proving to be no easy feat for Mel and the team and they met dead end after dead end. However, it seemed there was even more bad news to come for them. How would Mel get through returning to a dark place?
The story gets darker as Mel and Jeff search in London for a guy named Kevin Lambert. The stories they hear about him mixing with terrorists in Africa and chopping of people’s heads should have set those alarm bells ringing and encouraged them to take a step back, but this news just encouraged them to find him even more. It seemed they were about to cross extremely dangerous territory, and the feeling I got was far from joyous. They’d risked their lives before, but this guy seemed even more dangerous than anyone they’d encountered so far. Of course, no matter how terrifying it was, it made fantastic reading, but I felt nervous for Mel having to go back to a place that held so many terrible memories. The build up to the ending of the book was flawlessly written, and I couldn’t wait to see that final encounter with those they’d been chasing all this time. I just hoped Mel, Jeff and the rest of the team would get out of it all alive.
Finding out the truth about those smuggled rifles and the people behind it was shocking, but it seemed that Mel and the team were finally closing in. The author has brilliantly transferred the fear, seriousness and urgency from the characters at this point directly to the reader through her excellent choice of words, and things were really becoming rather tense! As plans are put into place, Mel’s past comes back to haunt her; would these leads take her back to Sahel, the place where she was betrayed and almost died? Meanwhile, there’s good news about Jeff’s recovery – but why didn’t he want to share this news with Mel, or even contact her at all? Was he still holding a grudge? He was definitely staying true to his character, but I felt like he needed to give Mel a break! There were some brilliant interrogation scenes here, and I loved just how passionate Mel was in getting the truth. The excitement was ramping up, but I just hoped the danger wouldn’t do so too!
I loved how each interrogation, each clue, each snippet of information weaved together like perfectly fitting puzzle pieces, and I took a few moments to appreciate the thought and problem solving that the author must have gone through. It was very impressive! As Mel takes a weekend off from the case, she visits her parents, and again, the author has injected a bit of emotion in just the right place. Being in the arms of her mother, her barriers are removed and her hard exterior softens, which was really heartwarming. We all need our mothers or a motherly figure to tell us things are going to be okay. The advice from both parents here was invaluable, and it even gave me some food for thought! The break from the case was exactly what she needed, even though she fought against it at first. The tone of the book completely changed here, and I absolutely loved it. We just needed her to finish the investigation for good and patch things up with Jeff!
“Of course, death was a hazard of her occupation. Every soldier had to face that. But that attack on her had been calculated, cold-blooded and personal. And by an English officer she had once loved.”
Speaking of McCracken, he’s sent out to Africa as more information comes to light about the arms traffickers. Mel discovering this was a very well written scene indeed – you’ll see why if you read it! She doesn’t feel optimistic about this, even though their relationship was up in the air. All she sees is danger, and she admits she would have objected to it if she had known sooner. However Mel and Joanna put plans together themselves that would make or break the investigation, and the build up to the finale was very impressive. I was reading faster and faster once more, and I was desperate to see Mel succeed. These plans were incredible and if they could pull it off, I knew it’d be an ending to remember! Just as I had a positive feeling about that ending, some shocking news about McCracken comes to light, and it became a priority to find him. Just how much more action and drama could the author cram in here?! A brilliant direction to go, and the author carries it out effortlessly.
Those final scenes were as tense as they come, so unpredictable and unnerving. It was impossible to not place yourself in Mel’s shoes, trying to process what it would feel like to be in her position, not only facing the most dangerous of all things, but also worrying about someone you care about the most, hoping they are still alive. Morton ended the story with a bang and created an unforgettable scenario filled with uncertainty and fast-paced action, and I loved seeing all the characters I loved working together. I especially enjoyed their dialogue with the opposition which felt so chilling, so terrifying! Those final few pages made me tear up, but it was the best ending and it left me so desperate for a book three in the series. After finishing the book, I had to sit in silence for a while to process everything Mel had gone through – what a journey! It seemed each book in the series was just getting better and better, and I have no doubt that the author’s next project will be spectacular, no matter what it is.
This author is quickly becoming one of my favourite thriller writers, and I loved this book just as much, if not more, than the first in the series! Morton’s writing is exceptional; her fast-paced plots are perfectly mapped with brilliant twists, and her characters are wonderfully developed with back stories that are genuinely interesting to explore. In this book, Mel faces her toughest mental and physical challenge yet and proves just how strong and determined she is. The most perfect female heroine that the book world needs more of! It’s been an absolute joy to jump back into this series, and I’ve loved every second of Mel’s new journey. If you love crime thrillers, you need to read Alison’s work and you won’t regret meeting Mélisende des Pittones!
A huge thanks to the author, Alison Morton, for my copy of this book and place on the blog tour! You can purchase your own copy of Double Pursuit on Amazon, available on Kindle and in paperback. Make sure you’re following the author over on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more updates!
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