The Refugee Sentinel by Harrison Hayes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Refugee Sentinel by Harrison Hayes
The year is 2052 population has outgrown the earth the polar caps are melting and the people who are considered to be High-Potentials are the only people deemed of any value to the future. When world governments come up with a lottery like system to reduce the population things begin to happen in the background that are subtle nudges toward trying to affect at least one of the High-Potentials. This novel has a lot going for it; but it will be taking you out of your comfort zone, which is never a bad thing. This time though this one takes the reader into the strange world of the antagonist (hit woman); and had there been any reason for us to even remotely want to have compassion for that character it might have been compelling. Unfortunately in this story there is little reason to feel anything for the trained hit person and I'm confused as to why we need to see so much of their training; since that entire thread distracts the reader from the real story: I think.
This is a well written story; but one of those that likes to time travel through back-story to get us to the day of greatest interest. Li-Mei, the hit woman, has a horrible past. Taken from her parents at a young age and trained to be an instrument of death. Now she is out in the world meting out death and destruction one step ahead of the lottery. She's been trained to be a heartless killer.
Colton Parker is a loser. The estranged husband of a High-Potential, Sarah, and father to an eight year old girl named Yana; Colton is going to find himself the center of attention from two directions. Each agency focused on him wants to see him dead.
This is the year that everyone must earmark each other for death. They can't earmark High-Potentials, so Sarah is safe; but some faceless person presumably working for a government wants to disrupt Sarah's life and earmarks her daughter Yana. The law says that someone might volunteer to take the death sentence from Yana and Sarah is hoping her estranged husband can be shamed into doing that.
For the mysterious evil plan to succeed the unknown agency must make sure that Colton Parker does not live long enough to save his daughter.
There is a reason behind his whole plan; and the entire concept of the lottery to reduce the population and having it go awry is enough to keep the reader in the story. The description of what Li-Mei goes through for her training is a bit disturbing and for me added little to the story. Perhaps if she could have been portrayed as some sort of hero, having to make a sacrifice at the end, it may have justified a need to show her back-story. As it is accomplishing her mission never really took much more from her than to be of cold-blooded murderous intent. Since the trail of bodies she was leaving showed that well enough, I didn't feel I needed to know much more than that she was a contract killer. Perhaps for me it didn't delve enough into her emotionally. I have enjoyed books such a those written by Trevanian where the protagonist might be a hit man for hire who has a set value system that's being challenged by the more egregious elements of the business and must decide how much they need to sacrifice and how far they will be pushed before they push back. I didn't see that here.
Perhaps, as often is the case, that's just me. There might be a lot of people who love to understand what made the cold-blooded killer the way they are. I felt it distracted from the purpose of this story; if the story was to be mostly about Colton Parker's willingness and capability of making a sacrifice. That back-story is well told and demonstrates the challenge behind that decision.
This is a Mystery Suspense Thriller Dystopia that should hold the interest of Thriller fans and maybe even those who like to dwell in the mind of the cold-blooded person who dogs the multi-flawed protagonist.
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