Switching genres or adding spices to my reads help me enjoy books better. I love picking novels that take me on different paths, and The Last Act did exactly this!
I would like to thank Faber & Faber for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. This review is my unbiased opinion.
Title: The Last Act
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Date of publication: 14.03.2019
Number of pages: 368
Former Broadway star Tommy Jump isn’t getting the roles he once did. As his final run as Sancho Ponza draws to a close, Tommy is getting ready to give up the stage, find a steady paycheck, and settle down with his fiancée.
Cue Special Agent Danny Ruiz. An old school friend of Tommy’s, now with the FBI, Ruiz makes Tommy an offer that sounds too good to refuse. All Tommy has to do is spend six months in prison, acting as failed bank robber ’Pete Goodrich’.
Inside, he must find and befriend Mitchell Dupree, who has hidden a secret cache of documents incriminating enough to take down New Colima, one of Mexico’s largest drug cartels. If Tommy can get Dupree and reveal where the documents are hidden, the FBI will give him $300,000, more than enough to jumpstart a new life. But does he have what it takes to pull off this one final role?
Brad Parks is a new author to me. The Last Act was my door to his work. This door was blown up and my hours were lit on fire as soon as I opened this novel. There is no other way to describe it!!
Tommy Jump is an actor running out of stage time. His prestigious hours are gone. But it doesn’t mean his life is over. He has a wonderful girlfriend and the kind of mom which make you crazy but you can’t help but love with all your heart. Tommy is trying to figure out what’s next for him when he runs into an old pal. You know what they say about old pals? They’re ‘old’ for a reason! What do you mean, I am being paranoid? You have no idea… Anyway, back to Tommy and Danny, who brings with him an opportunity for Tommy to secure his future in exchange for a few months of his life.
All of this happens right at the beginning of the book, giving the reader the role of their life – being the fly on the wall, privy to a top-secret operation that seems to come out of nowhere.
From the little I’d gathered about Tommy, I could feel he was a good man. Having dreams is not a crime, and life getting in the way made his situation real enough to support what was to come.
Would you give up six months of your life, your freedom, for money? Or for a greater cause, such as helping dismantle a drug cartel? Or both? Would you have the balls to do it? Would I? When those questions popped into my head, I knew I was hooked! I was like a rabbit in front of a carrot, or my dog when I’m eating French Fries…
I was trying to make out the personality of each character’s I was meeting while understanding the chance/opportunity/crazy plan offered to Tommy. I like my action thrillers to be multi-layered, juicy with curveballs, lies, danger, and characters who don’t sound as if they were just taken out of a bad cartoon. I had a feeling those first chapters could only lead to an explosive, intelligent, and surprising read.
Was I right?
When am I not?!!!
The Last Act delivers on everything you look for in action novels! It even over-does it with real and authentic protagonists looking for brighter days. Yes, money is useful to get a better life, but money has a cost… That’s a lesson for Tommy to learn!
Life in prison… I had a vague memory of a white-collar establishment from the show Suits, which helped me visualize the place at first, but then the writing took over. The words were powerful enough to create Tommy’s world without the help of my memory. I was in a hostile place, with rules and the unsettling fear that never truly goes away in a place like prisons. On top of navigating on his new identity and life, Tommy needs to put on the show of his life to survive and meet his end of the bargain.
Prison is a lonely place, they say. I certainly felt it! Each inmate’s face danced in front of my eyes as I was putting them in boxes: can trust / can’t trust / no idea what the hell?! Tommy and I were walking on eggs, making it even more difficult to get on with the mission: approach the target, discover important papers, and get the hell out. But in a place where trust is rarer than anything else, how do you make someone trust you? Because it goes both ways! If you can’t trust them, they can’t trust you! The pressure was weighing on my chest as the adrenaline levels rose and decreased, following Tommy’s play. What a hell of an actor! Small steps, setbacks, the ticking clock, everything was there to make me edgy and nervous. I wasn’t even in one of those cells!
Wrapped in this world and focused on the task at hand, I was sent to the ground, walked over, and knocked off my seat several times as twists kept making things harder and harder. Because if on paper everything felt nice and proper, when reality hits, Tommy needs to reconsider his choices.
The author skillfully plotted a twisted and explosive act. I was over the moon to see mind games take the lead instead of getting punches and bloody noses. Not that the book lacks in action! The Last Act is a fantastic and balanced action thriller. It’s a terrific piece of work! How much strain is needed to break a family? To break a man? In fact, calling it an action novel doesn’t cover it. Brad Parks has written a powerful, taut, and moving poker game!
A father of two and a husband of one, Brad lives in Virginia, where he spends four hours a day at his local Hardee’s, writing his novels. When not at Hardee’s, he’s a slow runner and an even slower swimmer who enjoys long walks in his head. He’s grateful for his readers, because otherwise he’d just be a guy who has a lot of conversations with himself and nowhere to put them.
For more information — or to sign up for the newsletter written by his impertinent interns — visit his website at www.bradparksbooks.com.
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