Length: 234 pages
My rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Morgan Cole lived a relatively normal life. A private detective in the town of Rock Harbor, he stays close to his brother and his brother’s wife, the only family he has left. The only other person he truly cares about is Gina, his assistant and friend, and the woman whose existence in Cole’s life nobody knows about. When his brother is murdered, Cole’s life is thrown into a nightmare from which his loved ones and he may never wake up. But Morgan Cole didn’t come from any ordinary, civilian life. He came from a life that had trained him to be a soldier, one of the very best. He had come from a life where war and death had been commonplace and a life from which he had returned unharmed. That made Morgan Cole a very dangerous man. And the man who had chosen to cross his path is the only one in his sights now. With the police involved with those against him, Cole has no option but to take matters into his own hands. And he has only one goal – make the men responsible for his brother’s death and his own living nightmare pay for what they’ve done.
City of Champions is a graphic, keep turning the pages, fast read that keeps you wondering what happens next. Daniel Stanton writes in a unique, sometimes quirky, fashion that paints a vivid picture of things as they unfold. You not only get a feel for all that Cole experiences, you even see things from his perspective as everything is described in interesting, not boring, detail. The random tense changes can be a bit off-putting, as can the constant return to the past when things are about to get really messy, really quickly, but the story still manages to hold on to its suspense creating nature and be a good read.
The characters that Stanton has created are simple in their own complex ways. Sure, they have a lot of layers and a lot of sides, but everything ties together really well. The reader is never left feeling like something was extensively out of character for anyone (something that happens more often than anyone would care for!). The relationships between the characters add new dimensions to the story, making everything come together in a neat, no nonsense fashion.
The beginning of the Morgan Cole series, City of Champions introduces a new type of hero. Cole, the man who makes up a major chunk of the story, is a really interesting character. Complex yet simple, Cole is a man who fears little except for when it comes to the people he cares about. He is a man who was trained to be a killer, who can even kill without remorse, and yet, he is completely human. He is plagued by concern, by guilt and by fear – fear for the safety of his friends, the fear of failure and the fear of making mistakes. The only difference remains in the way he refuses to let his fear or his mistakes cripple him. He takes what is thrown at him and makes the most of it. But for all his good, there is evil in him, drilled too deep by years of living in the midst of death and war. And that is what makes Morgan Cole’s character so interesting – the fact that he is more of an anti-hero instead of a hero. Stanton, in my opinion, created a character that you can hate (for his almost cold blooded nature), but cannot help but like.
The story itself was interesting, but not unheard of. The crux of the story lay on the vengeance that Morgan Cole desires, making it not too different from the many vigilante stories that you’ve read at some time or another. It had its share of twists and surprises and, in some cases, was even predictable. It had all the elements of a fast, action oriented, crime fiction and a healthy dose of suspense. And all in all, it was a quick and interesting read with an ending that was definitely not expected.
If you like Lee Child and similar authors, then you’ll probably enjoy City of Champions. It might not have the same kind of writing finesse, but it will keep you interested. However, if you have a problem with a little bit of graphic violence, then Morgan Cole is not the man you want to read about. And if you love fast paced books based on the concept of vigilantes or revenge, with a healthy dose of strategies and some necessary brutality thrown in, then don’t give this book a miss.