Adrian Magson is the author of 20 crime and spy thrillers, including the Harry Tate series, the Lucas Rocco series and the Marc Portman series. His latest books are ‘The Locker’ (Midnight Ink - Feb 2016) the first in a new thriller series, and ‘Hard Cover’ (Severn House - March 2016), the third of his Marc Portman novels.
It’s said that we each have a double somewhere in the world. For most of us it’s an unrealised or unlikely discovery. For Danny Lynch, however, ex-Iraq combat veteran and suffering from untreated anxiety problems, seeing his doppelganger hits home with stunning force.
Danny is already fighting to retain a semblance of balance in a world he no longer feels is his. Having witnessed a murder by a contract worker in a forward operating base in Afghanistan, and losing his job as a result, he’s dealing with his issues – mostly by ignoring them – while trying to keep Kate, his girlfriend, happy. She is studying to get into law school, while pushing him to get a job – any job – that will allow them to keep their heads above water in the horrendously expensive rental market of New York.
When he hears that his severance payment from Gideon Logistics, the military contractor in Afghanistan, has been withheld due to ‘violation of general orders’, Danny’s situation gets even worse.
He approaches Gideon for an explanation, and is taken aside by corporate consultant Phil Coover, who agrees that he is being unfairly treated and promises payment in full. He also receives a job offer as a kitchen worker. Both are unexpected and, he suspects, are to put him off talking about what he saw. Gideon Logistics has already been the subject of several law suits, but so far has weathered them all. Perhaps this is how they do it, by buying silence. When Danny finally tells Kate what he saw, she immediately wants to go after Gideon. But Danny, while full of guilt for not doing anything for dead man, knows the likelihood of tackling such a powerful company.
One day, while working in the restaurant, he spots Teddy Trager, billionaire, mercurial entrepreneur and all-round digital-age success. But Danny knows none of this. All he does know is that Trager is his spitting image. His doppelganger.
So shocked he can’t concentrate, he ends up stalking Trager to learn more about him. Could it be genes? Or pure coincidence of looks, or what? For the already fragile Danny it becomes all-consuming, taking him away from his job, Kate and everything he should be doing to sort out his life.
Courting this situation so closely leads to an inevitable face-to-face with Trager himself. The business mogul seems faintly puzzled, even genial at seeing the resemblance. He offers Danny a lift and off they go… until the car flips out of control. Trager pushes Danny out of the door before crashing and killing himself.
Besieged by impulses he can’t control, the injured Danny swaps identities with the dead billionaire and hides the body, before climbing behind the wheel and waiting for – what? He doesn’t know – it’s all too much to take in.
He wakes up in hospital, surrounded by medics and realising that nobody has spotted the fraud. Not even Trager’s trusted corporate lieutenant, Doug Shaw, or actor George Clooney and former president Bill Clinton, both apparently friends of the late Trager, appear to suspect anything is wrong.
The next few days and weeks, while initially of Danny’s making, are like an insane dream in which his life is not his own. When Trager’s body is found floating in the river, but identified as Danny Lynch, effectively cutting off any chance of Danny reversing the sudden mad flow of events, he realises he’s trapped in his new, false world. Expected to be the corporate high-flyer, guided - or is it directed? - by Shaw and a mysterious Dr Karl Lessing, he attends meetings, gives interviews… and takes coaching lessons into walking and sounding even more like Trager than he already does.
Soon the deceit is real. Danny has become the victim of his own impulsive decisions. Unable to see or speak to Kate or to take back his old life, it dawns on him that he’s a prisoner of something far bigger than he can hope to comprehend.
This sets out as a story about inertia, trauma, a broken life seemingly going nowhere yet with potential. But it soon accelerates into a headlong rush of madness, of a life out of control where there seems no possible solution other than to go along with the pretence.
I began this book wondering where it might be going. I didn’t feel particularly drawn to Danny, but I soon found myself more and more gripped by wanting to know just what was happening to him. I won’t say any more, save that it is intriguing, inventive and puzzling all at once, a fast-paced conspiracy thriller well worth a read.
Alan Glynn is the author of the CWA Nominated thriller ‘The Dark Fields’ which was filmed as ‘Limitless’ starring Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro,