Merrimon Book Reviews

The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building two days after the bombing.
Timothy McVeigh, with the assistance of Terry Nichols, destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It was the most significant act of terrorism on American soil until the September 11 attacks in 2001, claiming the lives of 168 victims and injuring more than 680 

From Merrimon Book Reviews
The Gatekeeper
The Gatekeeper by Michelle Gagnon
by Michelle Gagnon

The kidnapping of sixteen year old Madison Grant draws Special Agent Kelly Jones's fiance Jack Riley into a case tied to an unthinkable terrorist plot with an unthinkable ransom, a ransom that demands a father choose between his daughter and his country.  Meanwhile, the FBI assigns Kelly to the case of the murder and dismemberment of a senator.   As Kelly tracks down the clues to this crime, she investigates the fanatical fringes of American society who might resort to murder rather than the political process to achieve their goals.  More terrifying than any one fanatical group itself, she unveils the mysterious figure of The Gatekeeper, an anonymous but powerful force uniting the hate groups towards one common goal in one of the worst domestic terrorist attacks on American soil.  At first, the two cases seem disconnected but could they be related?  Will Jack and Kelly uncover the culprit and the plot before it is too late or will the case lead them into perils from which they might never recover?

Michelle Gagnon's new thriller THE GATEKEEPER chills the reader with an all too plausible scenario of the enemy within now united, of a blind patriotism turned so fanatical that it will stop at nothing to achieve its goals, a goal even more horrifying than the means itself. Seemingly isolated events become more ominous as the links between them are uncovered, but even more terrifying is the twisted mind manipulating these fringe groups.  The kidnapping plot itself magnifies the horror of the plan as Michelle Gagnon turns her vision from the broader look at hate politics to the dilemma and emotions faced by Madison's father.  By detailing these human moments, Michelle Gagnon unmasks the twistedness of political obsession, an obsession that seeks to destroy what it claims to value. 

Michelle Gagnon's THE GATEKEEPER is a page-turning thriller that speeds up to an action-packed shocking ending.  She takes Kelly into the most dangerous case she has faced to date.  Readers of the Kelly Jones series will discover even more development of Kelly Jones as a character.  Her relationship to both Jack and the FBI receives more attention here, building up the depth of her character for hopefully more development in future novels.  Michelle Gagnon's thriller achieves its goal in part due to recent headlines.  Set against the backdrop of the escalation of the divisive political volume in this country over recent years, THE GATEKEEPER is frighteningly realistic although her novel does not make use of any real life political personalities.  The more independent or introspective type of reader might find THE GATEKEEPER even more chilling as one reflects on one's own political positions while uncovering the terrifying nature of the Gatekeeper, a force more deadly than any individual group or political persuasion, a force that turns one against oneself.

What distinguishes THE GATEKEEPER, however, is the developing portrait of Special Agent Kelly Jones.  Tough, determined and talented, she is also a woman ambivalent about her job with the FBI.  Even her relationship with Jack Riley is not so clear cut or simple.  All these elements add to the depth of her character, making a reader want to see more of her.  In addition, this book in particular benefits from the complexities of her character, juxtaposing her humanity to the fanatical absolute values of those she tracks.  THE GATEKEEPER coalesces into a cliffhanger that will leave readers anxious for news of Michelle Gagnon's next release.

Publisher: Mira (November 2009)
Author website
Previous Kelly Jones books:  The Tunnels and Boneyard
Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
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