(Reviewed by Terry Cornell) Sometimes you don't know what you have until it is gone. And then it returns...
I didn’t know I missed Conspiracy in Kiev‘s Special Agent Alex LaDuca and her exploits until I started reading Midnight in Madrid. Once again, Noel Hynd manages to craft a fun read that’s a combination action novel, mystery and travel guide… with a touch of history on the side. Mr. Hynd’s precise descriptions of historical Madrid place the reader inside the intriguing plot. His nutshell presentation of Spain’s recent past makes complicated national conflicts and relationships both clear and interesting.
While enjoying a well-deserved vacation in Barcelona after her previous assignment, LaDuca becomes involved in the investigation of an art theft from Madrid’s national museum. She’s reacquainted with characters from her adventure in Kiev, and meets more as she delves into the mystery and tries to recover the stolen item. Most of the story takes place in Madrid, but some time is spent in Geneva and various locales in Italy. Government agents, killers, terrorists and art thieves abound. The reader must decipher where their allegiances lie.
As in the other books in this trilogy published by a Christian literary house, the religious theme is a subtle thread throughout, but an important aspect of LaDuca’s character. In this case, the biggest controversy is whether 'bad' people simply need to be killed as the most secure and expedient method to thwart them, or whether more morally just actions should instead be taken. Does every individual’s life have value regardless what evil plots and activities they pursue? Hynd doesn’t lecture or give an answer – once again, the reader is allowed to draw their own conclusion.
Hynd artfully reconnects to the first book so new readers know enough to understand this new tale without hammering Conspiracy in Kiev readers with too much repetition. LaDuca doesn’t appear quite as superhuman as before, which is all for the better; I found her more believable and likeable in Spain than she was in the Ukraine. Although this book is not as shocking as the previous one, the overall pacing and plotline combine to make Midnight in Madrid a step forward and a better reading experience. A more traditional storyline, LaDuca’s toned down character and her mysterious new partner all contribute to this improvement (over a first installment which it should be said, I also thoroughly enjoyed). I look forward to reading the third book in the trilogy, Countdown in Cairo, and I hope it isn’t the last I read about the traveling travails of Special Agent Alex LaDuca.
Noel Hynd's 'Midnight In Madrid' is part of his Russian Trilogy and available now from Zondervan Press