J.F. Kirwan saved the very best for last in the Nadia Laksheva trilogy with 88° North.
Pushing aside her own mortality, Nadia is determined to take down Salamander… for Katya, her father, Lorne… all the lives ended by him or because of him. She had trouble “taking the shot” in book one, but that Nadia is long gone.
With Jake at her side in her single-minded mission, the two quickly find themselves pawns in Salamander’s end game. The Russians and MI6 also haven’t shared everything they know. And is that North Korea dropping in? Oh my!
The foiled plan in London was revenge-worthy, but decades in the making, the main part of Salamander’s plan will change… and cripple the planet for years to come if he isn’t stopped.
I am hard-pressed to think of a villain as brilliant as Salamander. Even Sherlock Holmes’ arch nemesis, Moriarty pales in comparison. But he’s come up against a crew who’s learned the hard way how he operates, led by a woman with nothing to lose. The closer Nadia gets to her target, the more she learns about him… and begins to think like him.
While I respected Nadia in the first two books, I didn’t particularly like her. She did what she had to—almost robotic-like. She showed emotion, but I never felt there was any depth to it.
Nadia won me over in 88° North!
Maybe it’s because she’s dying, maybe it’s because she’s lost so much, but her determination to take down Salamander is fueled by a new humanness I didn’t feel from her before.
Nadia has regrets and remorse, and while rooting for her to defeat Salamander, I also didn’t want her to die—I wanted her to have a chance at the life she hasn’t had the opportunity to experience.
She has other experiences though, like an unholy alliance she wouldn’t have dreamed of. (Me either!)
One of the best scenes in the book for me is when, with Katya in mind and avenging the death of a friend, Nadia and her new partner take out a camp of henchmen/kidnappers/rapists! It was fast and fierce… with a nod to the Shilluk warriors! Awesome scene!
Jake delivers too, even though his hands are tied much of the time –literally and figuratively!
There were moments it appeared fighting against Salamander was futile. He was always two steps ahead of everyone and no life was exempt from taking, even family.
But what has been started can’t be stopped and Nadia and Jake persevere separately, each not knowing if the other was still alive most of the time.
Backup was provided by the resourceful Chef and the amazing Greaves—who should be nicknamed ‘Bulletproof!’ I’d love a book about Chef and Greaves’ back stories!
But this is Nadia’s party and despite bouts of nausea and dizziness, she fights the radiation poisoning slowly taking her life at every turn. I’m sure she wanted revenge against Salamander, but I believe for her he’s also a loose end… an unfinished assignment she intends to finish even if it takes her last breath.
If you haven’t read 66 Metres or 37 Hours, you must! Then sit back with 88° North, making sure your coffee and snacks are refilled before you reach the seventy percent mark in the story. That’s when this cat and mouse game will have you swiping pages to see who prevails because anything is possible once everyone reaches 88° north. Can Nadia and Jake stop Salamander and save the world? Can they save each other? Can I have a t-shirt with Greaves on the back? HA!
Kudos to the author for a well-written trilogy that tightly weaves the plot together through all three books to deliver a young woman who not only became something she promised her mother she never would… she became more.
The deadliest kind of assassin is one who is already dying…
As the radiation poisoning that Nadia Laksheva was exposed to in Chernobyl takes hold of her body, she knows she has mere weeks to live. But Salamander, the terrorist who murdered her father and sister has a deadly new plan to ‘make the sky bleed’. Nadia is determined to stop him again, even if it is the last thing she ever does.
The only clue she has are the coordinates 88˚ North, a ridge in the Arctic right above one of the largest oil fields in the world, three thousand metres below the ice. If Salamander takes hold of the oil field, he could change the climate of the whole planet for generations to come…
But can Nadia stop him before her own time runs out?
The gripping third and final novel in J.F. Kirwan’s brilliant spy thriller series. Perfect for fans of Charles Cumming, Mark Dawson and Adam Brookes.