Elizabeth A.'s Reviews > Czechmate

Czechmate by Seth Harwood
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's review
Apr 19, 2012

Czechmate picks up where This Is Life leaves off, literally. Still caught in the crosshairs of a very angry and powerful Russian mobster, Jack sees the arrival of some unexpected help when Czechs Vlade, Niki and Al make a return appearance from series opener Jack Wakes Up. Seems they have their own ax to grind against Alexi, and along with them and newly made allies SFPD Officer Shaw and FBI Agent Jane Gannon, Jack decides to play a little offense this time around and take the fight to Alexi. So where This Is Life moved at a somewhat moderate pace in order to lay the groundwork for that book and Czechmate, in this outing Jack hits the ground running and never looks back.

He can’t afford to, as it’s not only his life at stake this time. Jack’s racing against the clock to save the remaining young women in Alexi’s sex stable before Alexi decides to kill off all the “evidence” now that things have started to crumble around him. Jack’s also still being dogged by interference from people in positions of power in both San Francisco politics and law enforcement, people who have a personal interest in Alexi’s operation – and client list – not being exposed.

While unquestionably brimming with action, the series does also show a clear development and progression of Jack’s character as he evolves from a (somewhat) innocent bystander caught up in violent circumstances not of his making to a man who understands that in order to fight scum you have to be willing to get down in the gutter and get dirty. And Czechmate gets pretty damn dirty, with the climatic finale devolving into a truly graphic and brutal showdown, in which author Seth Harwood pulls no punches and guarantees no one safe haven.

I, on the other hand, guarantee you’ll enjoy the hell out of This Is Life and Czechmate… just don’t get too attached to any of the characters.

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