This fast-paced second book in Erickson’s Birds of Flight series continues the story of fugitive Alexander Burns and his family.
After stealing classified government information from the Department of Defense Foreign Intelligence Agency, Burns and his team have been on the run for years. As the book opens, they decide to negotiate with law enforcement officials for their safety, but their careful plans go awry, and Samantha, the woman Burns loves, is killed. Burns instructs her sister Becky to inform their FBI contact that “the ‘dead man switch’ has been pulled….‘The flood is coming.’ ” He then embarks on a mission of vengeance that could have repercussions for every American. He and his team risk their lives to release classified data on the controversial actions of the Foreign Intelligence Agency, which causes a diplomatic crisis. The team wants its freedom, and it’s willing to take down the whole country to get it. It finds unexpected allies within the government; one government operative says that Burns “has been consistent with loyalty to friends….Even when his paramour is killed, he keeps his word to those who keep it with him.” Erickson depicts government agents, spies and rogue operatives as well-rounded characters with discernible inner lives. The novel improves on 2012’s Albatross, the first book in this series, in Erickson’s ability to handle a somewhat convoluted plot without losing the reader. There are just as many explosions and gunfights here, but the overall mood of the work is tenser, and less triumphant, as Burns and his family risk not only their freedom, but their lives. An ambitious thriller that looks at the gray areas between vengeance and justice, law and morality.