Although I did not find it as engaging as “Finder”, Greg Rucka’s third installment of the Atticus Kodiak series entitled “Smoker” is a taught thriller that in some ways works as an amalgam of the elements that preceded it. There is the threat centered around a controversial subject as it was in “Keeper” but the professional vs. professional angle of the threat seems more in keeping with book two and we can see the transition the series is beginning to make where Atticus is being drawn into a world that you would not have anticipated when you cracked the spine of the first book.

“Smoker” also continues to show us how Atticus deals with his personal life and the way it affects his professional standing. He still makes some questionable decisions in regard to his relationships but they feel organic to the character and we begin to see Kodiak as the sort of person who is becoming very self-aware of his own actions. He doesn’t shift blame and as a result he takes on some guilt that he shouldn’t and it makes for a very interesting read. As a character, Kodiak feels very well developed because Rucka knows how to play the situations presented in such a way that they always reflect back on Atticus. Some of the side characters feel like empty vessels at times, but our protagonist is strong and with first-person narratives you have to empathize and be able to care enough about him to stay engaged. Rucka never leaves you feeling like you don’t want to spend time with this character.

All in all, I greatly enjoyed book three. It evolves the series in necessary ways and does so with Rucka’s talent for straightforward prose that compels long spells of reading. He’s one of the few writers whose novels I can finish in a single sitting.

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