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Reviews of The Recruit by Alan Drew

The Recruit

A Novel

by Alan Drew

The Recruit by Alan Drew X
The Recruit by Alan Drew
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jun 2022, 432 pages

    Paperback:
    Aug 2023, 432 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Peggy Kurkowski
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About this Book

Book Summary

An idyllic California town. A deadly secret. A race against killers hidden in plain sight...

Rancho Santa Elena in 1987 seems like the ideal Southern California paradise—that is, until a series of strange crimes threatens to unravel the town's social fabric: workers attacked with mysterious weapons; a wealthy real estate developer found dead in the pool of his beach house. The only clues are poison and red threads found at both crime scenes. As Detective Benjamin Wade and forensic expert Natasha Betencourt struggle to connect the incidents, they begin to wonder: Why Santa Elena? And why now?

Soon Ben zeroes in on a vicious gang of youths involved in the town's burgeoning white power movement. As he and Natasha uncover the truth about Santa Elena's unsavory underbelly, Ben discovers that the group is linked to a much wider terror network, one that's using a new technology called the internet to spread its ideology, plan attacks, and lure young men into doing its bidding. Ben closes in on identifying the gang's latest target, hoping that the young recruit will lead him to the mastermind of the growing network. But as he digs deeper in an ever-widening investigation, Ben is forced to confront uncomfortable truths about himself and his beloved community, where corruption is ignored and prejudice is wielded against fellow citizens without fear of reprisal.

Chilling and timely, The Recruit follows one man's descent into the darkness lurking just beneath the respectable veneer of modern life.

Chapter One

Detective Benjamin Wade was parked in the emergency lane of the Lucky's parking lot at Alta Plaza, admiring the sight of the snow-covered Santa Ana Mountains shouldering out of storm clouds. It had snowed overnight down here, too, on the flats of Rancho Santa Elena, and shoppers, pushing their carts toward the entrance to the store, gawked at the rare spectacle of it. He was stealing a fifteen-minute lunch in his idling unmarked cruiser to put away an "animal style" In-N-Out burger, keeping an eye on the Salvation Army Santa who was pocketing change when no one was looking. He was just about to walk over there to introduce himself to St. Nick when the Code 3 hot response squawked in over the scanner. Child in distress, Marsha Lynn, the daytime dispatcher called over the radio, 19734 Jupiter Street, California Homes. Mother on-site.

Ten minutes earlier, Ben had called to check in with his ex-wife, Rachel, on the cruiser's Motorola cellphone during her planning period at the ...

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Reviews

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Setting The Recruit 25 years ago lends an eerie sense of prophecy to the story, as the brutish faces of white supremacist movements are an all-too-familiar feature of today's current events. The Recruit is a nail-biter in the classic sense of the thriller, offering taut prose, compelling and diverse characters, and pitch-perfect pacing that delivers an explosive ending reminiscent of real-life events. Despite the unpleasant subject matter, Drew underscores the fact that good people still outnumber the bad ones — and that hope is an ever-replenishing gift we all should hold onto…for dear life, if necessary...continued

Full Review (885 words)

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(Reviewed by Peggy Kurkowski).

Media Reviews

New York Times
Drew highlights what it's like to be a lost teenager looking for community in the worst possible places, whether it's a Vietnamese girl who loves someone she shouldn't or a white boy putting his trust in poisonous ideology. That's just one of the many ways in which The Recruit, set in 1987, feels almost contemporary.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A terrific crime novel with an explosive climax, the book dares to find a level of empathy with its young perpetrators, connecting the dots between being frightened and "walking around in the dark" and turning to hate. A moving, grippingly relevant mystery.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Drew takes a nuanced approach in tackling the conflicts of gentrification. This socially complex police procedural, with its issues that remain all too relevant today, deserves a wide audience.

Author Blurb Graham Moore, author of The Holdout
The Recruit is thoughtful, relevant, and brainy. Alan Drew paints such a vivid portrait of a seedy world, you're convinced you'd never want to visit it. Yet as the story tightens its grip, you soon realize you can't bear to leave.

Author Blurb Jeffery Deaver, author of The Bone Collector
Extraordinary! The Recruit is as smart and stylish as it is compelling. The plot speeds like a race car on a breathtaking course filled with twists and turns, and the novel brims with rich psychological insights into the many fully drawn characters. I can think of no other thriller that portrays its vital themes—all relevant to our times—in such a riveting and up close and personal way. Bravo!

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Vietnamese Refugees in Orange County

Black and white photo of refugees deboarding planeAfter the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon fell to North Vietnamese military forces in April 1975, hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese escaped to American ships off the coast, either by boat or helicopter. In Alan Drew's The Recruit, the character Bao Phan is one of these refugees. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) estimates that over two million people left Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the 20 years after the fall of Saigon, and by 1992, more than a million had been admitted to the U.S.

One of the points of arrival for refugees was the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station near Irvine, California. In the late 1970s, El Toro received tens of thousands of refugees fleeing the war-torn region. After their first steps on American ...

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Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

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