Tom Paoletti, former Lieutenant Commander over Navy SEAL Team 16, has resigned his commission and formed Troubleshooters, Inc., a security “consulting” firm. He’s already signed Alyssa Locke as his #2 and Executive Officer, along with Sam Starrett and a few others. His latest hopefuls are Jimmy Nash and Larry Decker, both working as field agents for a top secret government agency, who Tom has recruited for a dangerous assignment in Kazbekistan. Decker is a former Navy SEAL and Nash…, well, he’s got a sketchy history. Tom’s also signed on Tess Bailey who worked for the same agency but in a support role. Tess and Nash have a history that didn’t end so well but she’s moved on. Nash, however, is struggling with his own conflicting feelings about her and his opposition to her being in the field for the first time in a country that has no value of women.
the heart of the story…
The series makes a hard turn with this story, focusing on Tom’s new firm. Jimmy Nash, Larry Decker and Tess Bailey are new characters who were introduced at the beginning when they were working at the agency. Smart move because I got to know them and their backstories (some of it) before they were sent on the Kazbekistan assignment. I really liked Tess who was a communications tech whiz whose skills were superb and critical. She more than held her own and proved she deserved being in the field. Her relationship with Nash couldn’t have been more complicated as this man had lots of deeply rooted baggage. Their romance was rocky as they were thrust in the middle of a bad environment, trying to do their jobs while faking a marriage and struggling with real feelings. Meanwhile, Decker is having his own issues when he mistakenly believes a woman he encounters, Sophia Ghaffari, to be a thieving prostitute instead of a former asset who’s trying to escape the country after having been held captive.
This is my first time listening to the dual narrators for the series and it made such a difference from my first time reading this story years ago. The transitions were smooth and Lawlor does a great job managing so many characters. It was a polar opposite experience from my first reading! I’m sold.
the bottom line…
There’s a lot going on in this story as the team is posing as relief volunteers following a devastating earthquake. Things are bad for women on a normal day in this country but now it’s downright awful. I admired how Tess never feared doing the job under extreme circumstances and used her head to work through some dicey moments. Nash has layers of complexity behind a movie star handsome face and he’s never been with someone like Tess. I enjoyed their messiness in the midst of a hard assignment. The first time I read this story, I came away underwhelmed, not really liking Nash and ambivalent about Tess. The audio version delivered quite a different experience in a good way. I not only liked Nash, I adored him. And don’t get me started on Tess. She rocked! Welcome to Troubleshooters!
- Release Date: December 14, 2014 (originally 2004)
- Series: Troubleshooters #7
- Narrators: Patrick Lawlor & Melanie Ewbank
- Audio Length: 13 hours, 27 minutes
- Publisher: Blackstone Audio