Beautifully paced and structured mystery thriller reveals ugly truths

The Cardinal’s Sin, by Robert Lane. Mason Alley Publishing. 368 pages. Trade paperback $14.95.

The third “Jake Travis” novel meets and beats any expectations that Mr.Lane’s readers developed from enjoying “The Second Letter” and “Cooler Than Blood,” both reviewed in these pages. It starts with a bang and never lets up. The bang is Jake’s assignment: he is tasked with killing an assassin who targets the relatives and other loved ones of special operations agents. Yes, this is exactly it. He must assassinate an assassin.



As they must in order to have a story line, things go wrong. Jake seriously compromises his relationship with Kathleen, the love of his life, with whom he has been enjoying a European vacation when the assignment reaches him. Understandably, he keeps his assignment from her, but this turns out to be a mistake. Meaning to protect her, he inevitably belittles her. Much of this fine novel provides a moving and sophisticated exploration of the relationship between Kathleen and Jake, one in which the killing power of words vies with the powerful finality of the assassin’s craft.

And there is this other mistake. Jake has been informed that his target is a man who uses the disguise of a Cardinal’s garb. At the proper time and at the proper place, he shoots the faux Cardinal; however, he shoots an actual Cardinal – a man who might have had a death wish.

The Cardinal is a man named Giovanni Antinori, a popular and progressive prelate known as the People’s Cardinal.  Somehow, he had replaced Jake’s intended Kensington Gardens target, a man known as Alexander Paretsky, whose recent work against U. S. interests had followed a major security breach revealing the names of U. S. clandestine agents.


A photograph in his victim’s hand eventually becomes an important item in the investigation that Jake and his cohorts conduct, along with assistance from an FBI connection. Mr. Lane’s readers know these carefully etched characters. One is Garrett, a co-worker on Jake’s assignments directed by Colonel Janssen. Another is Morgan, Jake’s neighbor on paradisiacal St. Pete’s Island. FBI special agent Natalie Binelli seems a reluctant contributor of information, but a most useful one.

The colonel tells Jake that Paretsky has been seen with a beautiful woman named René Lambert, whose father Donald just happens to live an island away from Jake, and she becomes a key figure in Jake’s effort to uncover Paretsky and put an end to his killing spree. But she proves hard to find. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the November 4, 2015 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the November 5 Naples and Bonita Springs editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Cardinal’s Sin

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