I didn't like Richard Paladin. He's a man's man - the testosterone-packed kind who swills beer for breakfast, works up a sweat at the gym, runs miles every day, and has a view of life that's completely opposite to mine. But it stands to reason that Paladin (not being exactly the suave James Bond type) isn't my kind of guy. I'm a woman, though a woman who enjoys a good thriller, and Killer Protocols definitely falls into that category. Notwithstanding my feelings about Paladin, he's a very well flushed out character, unusual for this action-driven genre in which characterization is traditionally sketchy.
Manuel not only does a first-class job in creating well-rounded, believable characters, he paints a superb picture of American life, both through his character's observations and through his meticulous attention to location details. I haven't hung out at the kind of bar Paladin frequents (doubt women would be welcome), but I've stayed in the kind of hotels he stays in, driven on some of those roads, and Emanuel's descriptions of Washington are spot-on.
I'm an environmentalist, so I was particularly interested in Paladin's cover being a job with the Environmental Protection Agency. Except Paladin isn't sure what his job at the EPA entails. This puts him in a sticky position down the line, but that's as much as I'll say about the plot as this is a thriller and it wouldn't do to throw out spoilers. You'll have to read the book and find out what that's all about, and I highly recommend you do. It's a well-written story that not only entertains, but captures aspects of the American culture beautifully. Despite not being head over heels in love with Paladin, I can't wait to see what he'll get up to in the next book of the series.
Richard Paladin works in the shadows eliminating terrorists, spies, and just general riff-raff who threaten the security of the United States. At least, he assumed that's who he'd be killing when he was hired into a secret department of the Environmental Protection Agency. But when one of his "clients" turns out to be a seemingly harmless Missouri housewife, then he's ordered to eliminate the owner of the local northern Virginia bar he frequents, he starts to ask himself a few questions—like what any of this has to do with the U.S. Government's reluctance to sign the Kyoto Protocol. Still, if he can run the gauntlet of spies and goons who keep cropping up unexpectedly, he might just be able to hold onto his job and keep doing what he loves—arranging fatal accidents and suicides. Because Richard Paladin hasn't got a clue what he would do for a living if he loses his job as a government killer.
About the Author
David E. Manuel grew up in Houston, Texas and attended the University of Houston, receiving degrees in history and political science. After college, he worked for a few years in the corporate office of an offshore drilling company. In the mid-1980s he moved to the Washington DC area and took a job with the U.S. Government, where he still works.