The Throwaway by Michael Moreci is a spy thriller made for the moment. It’s a fast moving read that jumps right into the story and throws its lead into a situation that quickly spins wildly out of his control. Mark Strain is an on the make Washington D.C. lobbyist with a growing family who is yanked out of his safe world when he is arrested as a Russian spy. In short order he is marooned in Moscow after a hastily arranged spy swap.
Once in Russia Strain tries to figure out how to escape his handlers and clear his name. I always enjoy when an author lets us see how a character recovers after being thrown off balance and out of their element. It’s reminiscent of Robert Ludlum’s books where ordinary men are placed in extraordinary situations.
You find out rather early on that his wife is pregnant and Moreci does a nice job of channeling the character’s anxiety and realization that the stakes for his success amuch higher than that had been before. Even though his reactions to this news are oversized to a normal response due plot demands, it still feels like a believable reaction for anyone who has gone through the five stages of acceptance that you’re having a child.
When the action leaves Russia the book loses a bit of steam as we head towards the inevitable conclusion. Also, the plot hinges on the Pentagon’s security being scarily easy to circumvent. Moreci said this story idea came from a couple of screenwriters, Phil Westgren and Alex Tse, and it feels like a leftover from a film script where certain leaps of logic are more forgiving in a movie than in a novel. There’s a bit of misdirection regarding who the real villain is but anyone who has read a few mysteries shouldn’t have trouble working it out in advance. However the real thrill is watching a character with no super spy skills try to escape the noose he’s found his neck in. That’s the most fun part of the book and it’s most successful.
I can see why they are releasing this in the summer. It’s a fun, fast story that you’ll enjoy spending an afternoon in the hammock reading.
The Throwaway is currently available from all fine booksellers.
From the back cover –
THROWAWAY [throh-uh-wey] – Noun – An agent who is considered expendable.
Mark Strain had it all–beautiful wife, a baby on the way, and askyrocketing career as a D.C. lobbyist. But when Mark is violently abducted from his home by masked men, everything he knows is turned upside down.
They say Mark committed treason. They say he’s a traitor to the United States.
They say he’s a spy.