Out of the dark, the smoke and the shadows, retribution will find you, you slaver of women, of children; and your blood will flow…
No. 4 in his Crime and Passion Series, Smoke and Shadow is really a collection of stories concerning two ruthless operators working for an outfit known by only a few as RSVP, as related by way of introduction to a new recruit. Their leader, Warren Baker, is himself a damaged ex-operator whose exploits precede this novel.
Ruthless and exceedingly proficient at their killing trade they may be, but Smoke (Harrison Trent) and Shadow (Hamilton Chu) have an Achilles heel – their compassion for innocent victims – which puts huge pressure on, and indeed endangers the success of their missions.
How would you destroy an arms depot without harming the child soldiers that guard it?
How would you protect the sex-trade enslaved women while slaying their slavers?
Sex slavers, arms dealers and child marketers are exempt from this compassion and their destruction is the purpose of RSVP. The action is intensely nail-biting, the backdrops well researched and exceedingly bloody.
Hennessy portrays their individual internal torment well as they walk the fine line between brutality and empathy. I found Chu especially tortured by his background of a brutal father and the self sacrificing mother who tried to protect him, while she never knew her son’s further burden of dealing with being gay.
The bandying of code names and real names in the beginning was rather entangled and confusing, so I missed some of the explanation to link the previous stories in the series which left me puzzled and distracted. I still do not know who a couple of the characters are; women in the matrix of the story-recalls, but I don’t think I’ll be re-reading it to find out, although the previous stories in the series may well not only clarify things. I’d like to know the identity of the concerned client and how they track down the bad guys in order to feed RSVP with the job.
The Series includes the novels Smooth Operator, A Taste of Honey and A Touch of Honey.