When we last left Ian Ludlow, he had turned the tables on some dangerous characters trying to use him to advance their plot to take over the CIA. Ludlow’s adventures (really misadventures) continue in Killer Thriller, Lee Goldberg’s second entry in a very appealing series. Once again, Ludlow is joined by his researcher, Margo French, who is now a CIA agent. Ludlow discovers French’s new identity when she begins leveling anyone who attempts to harm her boss. The stakes are high, with a possible terrorist plot in the works that only Ian and Margo are in a position to stop.
Like Goldberg, Ludlow writes thrillers. His hero is Clint Straker, “a freelance spy for hire.” Straker is a combination of Jason Bourne, James Bond, and MacGyver, using his brawn, brain, and tech know-how to outsmart his enemies. Ludlow himself falls short in those categories, so when he finds himself in bad situations, he must use whatever resources he can muster up to come out alive. This time around, he will depend for some of that on Margo.
There are some similarities in plots between Goldberg’s first Ludlow book, True Fiction, and Killer Thriller. Specifically, Ludlow’s ability to dream up plots places him in the crosshairs of America’s enemies. In True Fiction, his plot involved a plane landing on Hawaii’s Waikiki Beach, killing hundreds and injuring thousands. (Read the review.) In this outing, Ludlow has traveled to Hong Kong where the film version of one of his Straker books is being shot. When the Chinese intercept Ludlow’s notes for future plots, they believe he’s a spy and set out to kill him.
Wang Mei, the daughter of the wealthy Chinese businessman financing the film, has a starring role in the Straker film. But her father has been killed by the Chinese and those bodyguards surrounding her have been hired by Chinese intelligence to make sure she doesn’t try to defect to the U.S. Ian and Margo must stay one step ahead of the killers, keeping themselves alive, helping Wang Mei escape, and also saving the world. What’s happening offscreen is far more dramatic than anything being filmed.
As with True Fiction, Goldberg keeps the action moving along, never taking the plot or his characters too seriously. It’s a thriller, but a very funny one at times. Ian proves once again that he is not only a bestselling author, but Straker’s best double.