The Seine Vendetta by Ann Sterzinger REVIEW

The Seine Vendetta

Lisa LaRoche, a former US Marine who was dishonorably discharged, had found happiness when she met and married Christophe and moved to Paris. Then her husband was murdered by five young Algerian men who served only a brief sentence for manslaughter. Linda was able to murder two of them in retaliation and get away with it, but she remains in a slump, drinking away her pain every day.

One day, she’s contacted by a British intelligence officer. The remaining three men who killed her husband have joined ISIS and are planning an attack on Paris. He offers Linda a chance to complete her revenge and get paid for it.

“She had to admit that back in the spring of 2010, the city had been pretty to her. It was still one of the more pleasant spots on this accursed Earth. But that wasn’t saying much. Nine years and a dead husband later, she fancied she could smell the blood from the guillotine.

Or rather, from the Kalashnikov.”

The Seine Vendetta sees author Ann Sterzinger exploring yet another new genre. In the past she’s written tragicomedies, science fiction, and self-help non-fiction. This novelette is a military thriller. Despite being aimed at a more mainstream audience than her previous fiction, she maintains several of the fingerprints of her writing. The bitter, alcoholic protagonist and the witty, cynical humor especially.

Lisa LaRoche, like Sterzinger’s other protagonists, is someone who can never seem to catch a break and is always angry at the world. On the one hand, her anger seems justifiable, the way her husband was murdered was brutal and traumatic, but on the other, she seems unwilling or unable to improve her situation, choosing to waste away in the bottle rather than doing anything productive. Even when she’s hired by British intelligence to prevent a terrorist attack in Paris, she’s far more interested in her revenge and in the money than in anything like protecting innocent people. Despite her flaws, she remains likable due to her often relatable gripes and her humor.

The setup here is simple but well done. There is Lisa LaRoche with her desire for revenge as our hero, and Mohammed de Noailles, a former Algerian hoodlum turned terrorist as our villain. Mohammed leads a plot to set off a dirty bomb in the midst of other attacks in Paris to kill thousands. He looks forward to dying in battle against the infidels.

The story gives some commentary on the recent migrant crisis in France, Lisa finding herself disgusted by the number of Arab Muslims who have come to Paris and blames political correctness for the short sentences of her husband’s murders. However, Sterzinger recognizes the complexity of the situation and keeps the story from being a simple screed against Arab migrants in Europe. Mohammed is not a migrant, but a half-French, half-Algerian from a privileged background who has lived in France all his life. His privilege was also the reason he and his gang were able to get off with such little jail time. In addition, several non-Arabs are key players in the attack that Lisa is attempting to prevent.

When the climax of the plot kicks in, it’s a thrilling ride full of excellent action set pieces. The most striking part being a chase through the skeleton-lined Catacombs of Paris. There’s a good reason this scene was chosen as the cover art. The book wraps up in a satisfying way with a nice sequel hook as well.

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