Emma Caldridge, a bio-chemist and international ultramarathon runner, debuted in Jamie Freveletti’s 2009 Running from the Devil. Thereafter, the character has starred in the thrillers Running Dark, The Ninth Day, Dead Asleep, and the three-part novella, Risk (4.1), Gone (4.2), and Run (4.3). Along the way, Freveletti was commissioned by the Robert Ludlum estate to contribute two outings in the Covert-One franchise, The Janus Reprisal (2012) and The Geneva Strategy (2015).
Now, Caldridge returns in Blood Run where she’s invited by billionaire CEO Jackson Rand on a humanitarian mission to deliver vaccines to refugees in Africa. But two weeks into the mission Emma, Rand, and his secretary are ambushed on the road to Dakar by a band of assassins. In short order, Emma learns about vials of live smallpox virus a ruthless African government wants to buy as biological weapons. Another group of insurgents kidnaps an expedition of U.S. diplomats. Yes, all this is a rather complicated set-up—and this is just the beginning of the story.
For help, Emma calls Edward Banner, a defense contractor, even as her party learns they are surrounded on four sides by deadly insurgent armies wanting to kidnap any Westerners and make it impossible for them to break through to Dakar. Aiding camps of refugees, Emma enrages the insurgents who want to maintain the illegal practice of slavery. So trapped in the West African Sahara Desert, Emma and her allies must look for some means of escape, protect the vials of smallpox germs, rescue the kidnapped diplomats, help what refugees they can, and simply survive with minimal supplies and limited weaponry.
Aficionados of such international thrillers should expect a certain number of familiar tropes in these stories. For one, settings should be exotic and vividly painted, and Freveletti is excellent in providing her readers detailed descriptions of locales and the natural enviorenment. Often, there’s a deadly virus or disease involved in these novels, and smallpox is but one element in this story. The action must be fast and furious, and that’s certainly the case in Blood Run. Some “techno-thrillers” revolve around cutting-edge weaponry or surveillance devices, but Blood Run is exactly the opposite of all that. What matters here is how quick thinking and resourceful Caldridge is, not to mention the talents of the rest of her compatriots. For example, her restrained, sort of love interest, sharpshooter and drug agent Cameron Sumner, is an ideal partner as the pair take out a small fleet of heavily armed insurgents using, of all things, explosives built into cars and trucks that set off airbags.
Emma’s trademark ability is running, and run she does for long distances in the arid desert despite little water or food for sustenance. This is the one aspect of our heroine that pumps in a thread of originality into the proceedings. Of course, originality isn’t the point but rather how engrossed a reader can get in the story line as it opens up from beginning to end. If you’re a fan of this genre, you may find Jamie Freveletti is a surprisingly pleasant scribe of hot adventures that don’t require fantasticaly armed ships or mind-bobbling computers.
This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on Oct. 30, 2017 at: