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The Syndicate: Phantom’s Revenge by Joseph Sharp

rsz_four-stars

In The Syndicate: Phantom’s Revenge, Phantom is a respected agent at The Syndicate, a secretive, powerful, bureaucratic entity that controls most governmental and big business operations. He excels at his job, has a beautiful family, and is skeptical of The Syndicate’s sudden decision to pair him with Ghost, a hand-to-hand combat expert with a temper, and a secret. When Phantom’s wife and daughter are suddenly and mysteriously kidnapped, the two agents realize that the only way they’ll be able to complete a mission with as impossibly high stakes as this one will be to work together. This story treads on familiar ground, but manages to keep the reader hooked with a steady supply of intrigue, action, and most importantly, revenge.

Joseph Sharp has a visceral, exacting writing style that is particularly well suited to the number of fight scenes, which he peppers generously throughout The Syndicate. However, much as his ability to make his sparring characters feel immediate and fully present works in his favor when they’re in action, it seems that he may have prioritized scenes like these over the narrative at a whole. On the same note, we found that these gratuitous fight scenes were often the only ones that possessed this sense of immediacy. Ghost and Phantom’s banter is amusing at first, but quickly becomes repetitious and tired, and many of the crucial plot points, like Phantom’s wife and daughter’s kidnapping, are glossed over, it seems, in order to get back to a spat between Phantom and Ghost. The dynamic between Ghost and Phantom is tried and true (they come from very different places, though their differences are what ultimately bring them together and allow them to succeed as partners, etc.), but as the fighting between them overpowers the other plot points, the focus on their relationship keeps us from getting to know any of the other characters as well as we know them. The Syndicate: Phantom’s Revenge is a rollicking foray into the dangerous, compelling world of spies and secret agents, double-crossers and mob bosses—you’ll be hooked from page one.