Sunday, October 9, 2011

Beyond Instinct by Lynn Ames

Publisher:          Phoenix Rising Press

Sometimes you see reviews that say, don't start this book unless you have time because you won't be able to put it down.  When I say that about Beyond Instinct, believe it.

Sage McNally saw something she shouldn't have.  She didn't know it, but what she saw causes her to be kidnapped off of the streets of Mali and taken into the desert by Tuareg warriors.  Vaughn Elliot, former CIA agent and now a security expert for the State Department, hasn't known the diplomat long, but she knows she has to rescue Sage and determine why someone would do this to her.  The women have fallen into a treacherous plot that stretches from Washington, DC, to Africa and on to Afghanistan.  Vaughn, who has watched a former lover be murdered in the line of duty, is determined that it won't happen again.  A congressional visit appears to be at the center of the mystery and Vaughn has to determine how all of the pieces fit together.  Sage holds the key if she can only remember what it is.  The women are joined by a cast that includes highly skilled field agents, corrupt politicians, deadly assassins and heroes who are willing to die for what is right.  Though Sage and Vaughn are attracted to each other, nothing can come before the mission.  Too much depends on its outcome.

Lynn Ames has written a suspenseful adventure novel that can be compared with the best in the field.  Beyond Instinct can stand against any Robert Ludlum or James Patterson novel on the shelf.  The action is fast paced and the characters are defined just enough to see each one of them clearly and why that person had to be in the story.  The weaponry and technology that are employed in the book have obviously been well researched and their usage gives the book a very real and modernistic feeling.  The emotions that come from the characters tap into the reader and create a feeling that the reader is sharing the fear, horror and relief that everyone is experiencing.  As the reader nears the end of the book the need to read slower speaks to the reluctance to see the story end.

Ames does two things in this book that make it refreshing.  The people of Africa are treated with great respect.  Unfortunately, the stereotype in Western literature is to show them as poor, corrupt and backward.  Ames' Africa most certainly contains poverty and illegal activities, but there are also characters who act with great dignity and honor.  There is a very delicate balance struck in the Tuareg leader.  Though he is going to perform a despicable act, he does it out of a sense of honor and has the decency to understand that what he is doing is wrong.  The other interesting point is the relationship between Sage and Vaughn.  The fact that they are lesbians and feel drawn to each other is a strong thread in the story, but it doesn't dominate what is going on.  There is never any doubt that the point of this story is to figure out who is behind what is happening, what their ultimate objective is, and how to stop them.  This is never a story that is simply holding together scenes so that the women can hop into bed together.

One of the best things to observe in literature over time is the growth of an author.  Anyone who is a Lynn Ames fan from her first books is going to find a very different writer in Beyond Instinct.  From someone who wrote rather formulaic novels, she has progressed to something much more.  Her use of vocabulary, characters and scenery has grown tremendously from her first books and gives this one a more mature feeling and allows the reader to flow seamlessly from scene to scene.  Ames' development of her abilities is striking.

For anyone who enjoys a book that is based around adventure, intrigue and suspense, there can't be a better example than Beyond InstinctJust one warning.  Don't start it late at night because you won't be going to sleep for a while.

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