Chasing the White Lion – James Hannibal

Chasing the White Lion James Hannibal
Chasing the White Lion by James R. Hannibal
Also by this author: The Paris Betrayal, The Paris Betrayal, Elysium Tide
Series: Talia Inger #2
Published by Revell on March 3, 2020
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Suspense, Thriller
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Young CIA officer Talia Inger has reconciled with the man who assassinated her father, but that doesn't mean she wants him hovering over her every move and unearthing the painful past she's trying to put behind her. Still, she'll need him--and the help of his star grifter, Valkyrie--if she hopes to infiltrate the Jungle, the first ever crowdsourced crime syndicate, to rescue a group of kidnapped refugee children.

But as Talia and her elite team of thieves con their way into the heart of the Jungle, inching ever closer to syndicate boss the White Lion, she'll run right up against the ragged edge of her family's dark past. In this game of cat and mouse, it's win . . . or die. And in times like that, it's always good to have someone watching your back.

Former tactical deception officer and stealth pilot James Hannibal takes you deep undercover into the criminal underworld where everyone has an angle and no one escapes unscathed.

This book has a lot going on in it. That’s my one-sentence review. Is that good? Is that bad? Eh. Think of the Fast and Furious movies, or, at least, the later ones. Their pacing is…well…fast and furious. A lot of things happen, you aren’t always sure how or why, sometimes the plot unravels if you pause or stare too hard at it, but when you finish it’s all a rush of endorphins and you had a good time. That’s Chasing the White Lion by James R. Hannibal.

This the follow-up novel to The Gryphon Heist, a book whose name I knew but had never read. It wasn’t until I did my research to write this review that I realized that it was a second book in a series, which explains why some of the characters came on the scene like I should have already known them. It’s obvious that Hannibal has written Chasing the White Lion to stand alone if needed, but the context of The Gryphon Heist is going to be helpful.

The story follows Talia Inger, a CIA operative who plays a little fast and loose with the rules but always gets the job done. In Chasing the White Lion, she’s after the head of a crowdsourced crime syndicate the Jungle and hopes through that to rescue a group of kidnapped refugee children.

Hannibal just throws readers into one action scene after another, never letting up, keeping the story moving from one place to the next. On one hand, it’s exhilarating. On the other, it’s exhausting. You never feel like you get time with the characters to know them or understand their motivations. Part of that is my fault, I think, by not having read The Gryphon Heist, but some of it is a knowing sacrifice on Hannibal’s part to keep the story moving at a breakneck pace.

I guess that’s my main criticism. Just slow down and tell one story well. There are easily five solid novel-length plots in this book and Hannibal condenses it into one book. You can keep up the pacing and develop the characters more deeply. Chasing the White Lion is very much made-for-movie in terms of its pacing. I don’t think this style works for me personally as a book, but this sort of action-thriller is exactly what I enjoy in a movie. Go sell this as a screenplay because I’d definitely watch it. ScarJo as Talia.

Nonetheless, Hannibal’s talent is obvious. The writing is crisp. His use of military jargon might be off-putting to some, but it fits the style he’s going for. Hannibal seems like he’s carving out a niche for himself in Christian fiction. His style isn’t incredibly common and it’s a breath of fresh air in a market where suspense/thrillers are usually veiled romances.