I confess that I was a bit disappointed when I learned that Wallace Stroby's new novel would not feature Crissa Stone, the kick-ass female protagonist who has starred in his last four books and who has become one of my favorite characters in the crime fiction universe. Happily, though, my concerns were short-lived. Some Die Nameless features all of the qualities that readers have come to expect from one of Stoby's novels: great writing; well-drawn, memorable characters, and a plot that moves practically at warp speed.
The main protagonist is Ray Devlin, a man with a shadowy past who once worked for a private security firm, doing the sorts of things for which private security firms and other such contractors have become famous for in the years since 9/11. Devlin's last job was in a fictional Latin American country near Venezuela where his firm had been hired to help put a brutal dictator into power and then to keep him there. But something went terribly wrong, and in the wake of those developments, Devlin has retired and is attempting to live quietly under the radar on a boat in South Florida. One day, though, his past catches up with him and Devlin discovers that killers are hot on his trail, apparently attempting to clean up a potentially embarrassing situation for the company that once employed him and that now has its sights set on higher and much more lucrative goals.
As Devlin maneuvers to save his life, he crosses paths with a crime reporter named Tracy Quinn. Tracy works for a struggling newspaper in Philadelphia where the cost-cutters have taken over in the person of managers and editors who are much more interested in generating clicks on the paper's web page than they are in competent, old-fashioned reporting. Tracy is struggling to save her job while simultaneously attempting to maintain the high standards that once characterized the paper's mission. It's no easy task, especially when she stumbles across another element of the mystery that Devlin is pursuing, and once they meet and begin chasing the story and the bad guys together, things are going to get very, very dicey for both of them.
Both Devlin and Quinn are interesting and sympathetic characters, and watching them in action is hugely entertaining. But in addition to telling a great story, Stroby has also raised some very serious questions about the future of journalism in this country and about the ways in which the government has increasingly come to rely on private contractors to do its work, dirty and otherwise, in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and other such hotspots. Some Die Nameless is another solid effort from Stroby--a very good book that will give readers a lot to think about.