Friday, February 25, 2011

Dying to Live - Kim Baldwin & Xenia Alexiou

Book: Dying to Live
Authors: Kim Baldwin & Xenia Alexiou
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

Note to self: When suffering from a high fever, pounding headache, and severe chest congestion, do not read a book about a genetically engineered uber virus with a near 100% mortality rate, no matter how hot the women are between the covers.

Dying to Live is book #4 in the Baldwin & Alexiou Elite Operatives Series. It's 384 pages of hot, humid, flea-infested, gut-wrenching, tilt-a-whirl action that holds you hostage until the final word.

It's the story of Fetch, an Elite Operative who's strength is going deep undercover on Search & Rescue missions. She's embedded and serves as a Medic with the FARC, a radical guerilla group that kidnaps and ransoms unsuspecting folks. Her mission is to rescue three Italians and two Kiwi's, but ends up being asked to include Zoe, a seemingly self-centered, immature, socialite who picks up the wrong girl in a Columbian gay bar. Our jungle girls square off, first against each other, then against the guerillas, the jungle, and then the uber virus. We're reintroduced to Domino, Allegro & Lynx, heroines (and their respective gal pals) from the first three books, Reno (the token male agent who sits at a computer in Colorado and hacks things on demand), and Monty Pierce, Joanne Grant and David Arthur, EEO's Kerberos.

The book starts off a tad slow, as we're introduced to the dastardly scientist that creates the uber virus; and Zoe, her fall from Grace, and her kidnapping. 

There was, admittedly, a little blip of life as Zoe gave a whole new meaning to the phrase "head of the table" . . .

I digress, nothing wrong with a slow building up, I was just excited to get to know Fetch.

I know that probably sounds whiny, but I have a crush on every one of the Elite Operatives (except Reno, of course), so for me, the book started when Fetch slipped her sunglasses on and thought lovingly of the drugs the EOO slip her to make her a better machine. Thump. Thump.

The villains in this book truly display the pock-marked faces of evil. From the sicko Dr. Andor Rozsa, to the smelly Diego Barriga, and almost every male in between.

Well, except for Reno . . . he's not much fun at parties, but he knows how to sit, stay, roll over, and transfer money from Swiss bank accounts.

We're reintroduced, in fairly great detail, to Domino and Allegro - some of the best dialogue in the book comes from the interaction between these two Operatives. Domino is still fairly focused and serious, but Allegro is on a roll and delights the reader by baiting Domino at every opportunity. Of course, it's all in jest, since they see each other as 'sisters' and best friends.

Speaking of 'sisters', just a point here: The EOO discourages the Operatives from developing personal ties to anyone. Yet, Domino has Haley (and her baby bump), Allegro has Kris, Lynx has Phantom Jack, Fetch was going to marry Sam, until she got flattened in Afghanistan (but now she has a reluctant thing for Zoe); Monty is getting it on with Joanne, but sees both Lynx and Phantom Jack as 'daughters' (maybe?) . . . oh, and David Arthur has a special spot for Fetch, his perfect little automoton soldier.

I wouldn't change a thing, but it seems to me that Kerberos needs to reevaluate the fraternization section of it's Employee Handbook . . . just sayin'!

Okay, I loved, loved, loved this book (and before I read it, I reread the first three to get me into the mood) . . . but with the good, comes a few things the authors need to think about . . . any maybe they have, but I'm being impatient: They give hints of back story for each of the Elite Operatives, but never really fill in the blanks. For instance, why does Fetch and a few other Operatives need to take Provigil, Propranolol, Electroporation, and Biafine? Perfect soldier? Sounds like perfect addict to me . . .

(is anyone else humming Michael Jackson's 'The Way You Make Me Feel'?)

Likewise, in Missing Lynx, Book #3, the authors allude to some sort of long lost, special relationship between Phantom Jack and Monty Pierce, but by the end of Book #4, we still don't know what or why. Anyway, I guess I just want to know 'the rest of the story'.

I don't want to give the ending away, but I'll tell you that we have the requisite nipples straining against t-shirts and appreciation of firm asses in camo.  I bawled my eyes out and did a happy jig all in the space of thrity minutes - the ending is slippery, fast-paced, intense, and painful. It keeps you on the hook until the final word, which made me almost angry, but only because I want to know what happens next.

I'm not normally a fan of collaborations in literature, but make no mistake: Baldwin and Alexiou are an unparalleled, dynamic duo that can write the heck out of these characters, while dropping them in and plucking them right back out of the deepest, darkest heart of Bigbadville.

I'm already tapping my foot loudly for Book #5, Demons are Forever.

On the Rainbow Scale, I'll give it a 5.8 out of 6.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the great review and in time all your questions will be answered :)
    Xenia Alexiou