Title: The Trust
Author: Shira Anthony and Venona Keyes
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Science Fiction, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Novel/222 PDF pages
Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5
Review Summary Science fiction at its best: Wonderful three dimensional, complex heroes fighting a battle in a world where it’s almost impossible to figure out what’s reality and what’s a simulation, and who is friend or foe.
Eight years ago, Jake Anders was a college kid from the wrong side of the tracks. Then Trace Michelson recruited him into The Trust, a CIA-backed agency whose “executives” eliminate rogue biotechnology operations. Trace was everything Jake ever wanted in a man: powerful, brilliant, and gorgeous. But Jake never admitted his attraction to his mentor, and Trace always kept Jake at arm’s length.
Now Trace is dead and Jake is one of The Trust’s best operatives, highly skilled and loyal to the organization. But the secret agent has his own secret: six years ago, before he was assassinated, Trace designed a Sim chip containing his memories and experiences—and now that chip is part of Jake. It’s just data, designed to augment Jake’s knowledge, but when Sim becomes reality, Jake wonders if Trace is still alive or if Jake really is going crazy like everyone claims. He doesn’t know if he can trust himself, let alone anyone else.
To learn the truth about Trace and the chip, Jake embarks on a dangerous mission—except he’s not the only one looking for the information. Some of the answers are locked in his head, and unless he finds the key, he’ll be killed for the technology that’s become a part of him.
Now, more than ever, Jake wishes Trace were here to guide him. Too bad he’s dead… right?
Have you ever read a story and found it difficult to distinguish between what’s reality and what is not in the world the authors created? Welcome to The Trust, an organization that used to be a deep cover operation for the CIA, but whose current mission might warrant a closer look because it reinforces the old adage “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The Trust starts out with a bang and never lets up. I was so engrossed in this book I stayed up all night to finish it because the story was so compelling and the characters so wonderfully crafted that I had to find out how the authors would navigate their way out of one death defying situation after another and make it credible. They didn’t disappoint. This book is exciting, the world building is absolutely first class and the complex characters are definitely three dimensional.
In the opening chapter of the book Agent Jake Anders is near death, bleeding out after being shot in an artery by a colleague turned traitor, but he’s saved by divine intervention or maybe the explanation is even stranger than a deity pulling him from the brink of death. Was he hallucinating as he was losing consciousness when he thought he saw his mentor Trace Michelson who had died 5 years ago by a bullet through his heart? Did Trace save his life by gunning down his attacker? The only explanation was that the Sim microchip implanted in Jake’s head, which contained all of Trace’s memories and knowledge had malfunctioned, or he was going crazy. This is only the beginning of a fast paced, dizzying ride.
Jake rose from a nobody to become the most valuable operative for The Trust, an organization established by Trace’s grandfather that worked in co-operation with the CIA to monitor foreign governments and privately owned companies that use or misuse biotechnology. He met Trace 9 years ago when he was a teenager as he was being beaten up by three punks. Trace saved him from what could have been severe injuries or worst case scenario – death. Later he was invited by Trace to tour the offices of The Trust. The rest, as they say, is history. They could not have been more different – Trace was brilliant, suave, sophisticated, controlled and never at a loss in any situation while Jake was his exact opposite – hot tempered, incredibly loyal and street smart but also extremely intelligent.
The main thrust of the story is Jake’s evolution from street punk into the most respected operative of The Trust, his relationship with Trace, and what changed after Trace’s death. Also, what was the significance of Project Resurrection created by Trace? Why was Jake given the plum but most dangerous assignments? There is so much more to this story that I couldn’t even begin to discuss in this review without spoilers, and this is definitely not the kind of book where you want someone to reveal spoilers
The Trust is told mainly from Jake’s third person POV but we also get limited POVs of other characters, including those planning his demise, which add to the complex and exciting plot. There were some great scenes between Jake and the Trace Sim as they discuss strategy as well as Jake’s and Traces’s past. The Sim’s philosophy was “trust no one,” but was it what it seemed to be – a sophisticated microchip? Or was it the embodiment of more than Trace’s memories and intelligence, in other words was it the essence of the man, his thoughts and feelings – a sentient being?
The Trust uses a series of flashbacks mixed in with present day scenes to give readers a sense of who Jake is and his explosive relationship with his mentor Trace, and this worked really well. Obviously the key to the plot was figuring out whether Trace did indeed die 5 years ago and if not, how did he manage to fool everyone including his sister in whose arms he died, as well as what role the Trace Sim played in Jake’s life? These and other questions can only be answered by reading this incredibly intense and thrilling story that takes readers from North Carolina to a tiny village in Tibet to Bern, Switzerland and back, as Jake tries to solve the mystery of the man he loves. Yes, there is a romance but it’s integrated with the other elements that make the story so exciting and I thought the way the authors handled it by having Trace and Jake together almost as a mind meld was very romantic.
The Trust is a mix of science fiction, fantasy, espionage and romance and each element is well executed and almost flawless. Obviously you have to suspend disbelief since some aspects of the story are outside the realm of reality, starting with a dead protagonist who is ever present in the mind of the other MC. Our heroes did have their HEA and you will have to read the book to see how the authors pulled this off, after all it’s not often that a dead MC is resurrected in a book that’s not paranormal. Project Resurrection, remember?