Curve of the Dragon

Episode 1 - Chasing Shadows

Fiction - Thriller - Espionage
131 Pages
Reviewed on 01/31/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite

If you are a fan of James Bond movies and love reading spy novels, Curve of the Dragon: Episode 1 - Chasing Shadows is a must-read for you. Author Matt Stokes's brilliant debut novel follows a talented young man named Will Taylor in search of his missing sister who went MIA in Afganistan. Will's mission brings him in the path of former CIA operative Carter. Carter quickly takes Will under his wing as he has been tracking Laura Taylor himself and has successfully infiltrated the mysterious organization called Fractal. Meanwhile, an attack on the British Embassy in Washington by Fractal agents has led to a joint investigation by the CIA and MI6 through Maia Calderon and Sebastian George, respectively. Can Will, Carter, and Maia figure out Fractal's endgame?

Curve of the Dragon: Episode 1 - Chasing Shadows is the first installment of what seems to be an action-oriented thriller series that is guaranteed to entertain fans of the genre. Matt Stokes's novel hooks you in with intricate plotting, vivid action sequences, and a cinematic narrative that refuses to slow down and, at times, freezes your breath. I loved the dynamic between Carter and Will and couldn't get enough of them. The dialogue is crisp and concise, and I found the plotting to be immaculate. Due to the episodic nature of the narrative, the book ends with a cliffhanger. But that has only made me more eager for the sequel. Curve of the Dragon: Episode 1: Chasing Shadows is the best spy novel I've read this year yet, and I would highly recommend it.

Edith Wairimu

The first book in the Curve of the Dragon series, Chasing Shadows by Matt Stokes is a fast-moving thriller about a vicious, secret criminal organization. The book opens with a gripping scene. Randall, a father and former soldier, receives orders from an unknown source that lead him to the British ambassador’s residence in Washington DC. Meanwhile, Engineer Will Taylor receives a message from someone claiming his sister is still alive. Will, who has been saving cash from his engineering jobs to finance his trip to Afghanistan, is stunned by the message. His sister, Laura, had been considered MIA by the army but Will is determined to find her, believing she is still alive. The sender of the message, CIA officer Carter Callahan, reveals himself shortly later. Together they embark on a dangerous mission to find Laura.

Chasing Shadows begins with an intriguing scene that provides a great description of the workings of the criminal organization. Their strategies are well-calculated and they stop at nothing to get what they are after. Where dialogue appears, it is engaging and entertaining. Some humorous remarks are included, and they lessen the tension in the action scenes. Chasing Shadows moves from one exciting scene to the next, each scene involving risky, hair-raising events. I also loved that the book contains fewer details and moves fast. Still, keeping track of the plot is easy as characters are few. Readers will love Chasing Shadows by Matt Stokes for its exciting scenes and likable characters. They will need to read the next book in the series, though, to find out how the rest of the plot unfolds.

Jon Michael Miller

As Will Kirby struggles in the middle of a seemingly inescapable dilemma in Matt Stokes’s Curve of the Dragon and is asked by his compadre Carter what is going on, Will replies, “It’s James Bond sh-t.” And, in fact, Will’s answer is right on. Stokes, in his afterword to the short novel, confesses his former addiction to the spy thrillers of Ian Fleming. Stokes’s idea is to create a sequence of novels much like a television series, and Curve of the Dragon is the kickoff episode. And what a kickoff it is! Will, our protagonist, is an engineer and Air Force veteran, whose sister, a Navy SEAL, has been abducted somewhere in Afghanistan. Carter, a fellow SEAL, has vowed to find her, and recruits—if not kidnaps—Will to lend a hand. In a related plot, a bomb goes off in the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., and agents scatter to find out what happened. A common line in the action is, “Oh no, what do we do now?” Like the Bond series, the action is almost nonstop, along with the precisely placed wry comment to remind us that all is in fun. After a series of seeming inexorable dilemmas, Will and Carter find themselves in shark-infested waters and are captured on a remote Pacific atoll that houses the headquarters of an evil organization focused on world domination—Fractal.

Here the episode ends, but not the story. Thus, we are primed for the next installment. Like the Bond series, Stokes’s kickoff piece both intrigues and delights. As a reader, I had to remain alert to every sentence, and like the characters, I often found myself saying, “Oh no, what do we do now?” Thus, with that “we,” you can see my identification with the characters and their relentless predicaments. The story moves like greased lightning, and though we are not sure what the larger picture is exactly, we know that it is life or death—with a wink. Such a tone is difficult to accomplish—wry humor in the midst of bloodbaths and shark attacks—but Matt Stokes pulls it off as if he is Ian Fleming’s incarnation. It is a fun read with appealing characters, a challenging plot, and lots of action. Curve of the Dragon—this “James Bond sh-t”—is extremely hard to put down.

K.C. Finn

Curve of the Dragon is a work of fiction in the action, thriller, and espionage sub-genres, and was penned by author Matt Stokes. The work is intended for the mature teen and adult reading audiences and contains mild use of explicit language and some scenes of moderate violence. Our protagonist is Will Taylor, an engineer, who discovers a deadly secret at the heart of the Palmyra Atoll when a rogue CIA officer gets in touch with details about Will’s missing sister, Navy Seal Laura. With the odds stacked against them and no-one else to trust, these canny strangers team up to take on a dark ring of dangerous spies in order to discover Laura’s location, and much more.

Author Matt Stokes has crafted an immersive and high-octane work of short fiction with plenty of twists, turns and intrigue to offer readers as an opening installment to the Chasing Shadows series. One of the features which I found particularly impressive about this piece was the sense of action, not just in the bigger, more exciting scenes, but in every well-described movement of the cast of characters. Stokes’s attention to detail creates a cinematic work in which one feels able to move around and see every detail, which is all the more impressive and engrossing in a thriller novella such as this. Though only part of a much wider story, this first tale has all the gripping action one would hope for and leaves you hungry for another episode. Overall, I would highly recommend Curve of the Dragon to fans of modern spy thrillers and those looking to start an explosive new series of short adventures.

Grace Masso

Chasing Shadows is the first episode in the Curve of the Dragon series by Matt Stokes, a thriller that is recommended for fans of espionage and conspiracy. Will Taylor’s sister has gone missing and while he has not even spoken about it to his father, an internet stranger, breaking the defense contractor networks, tells him that he can help find Laura. The adventure that begins on his computer screen with Red Hat points Will to Palmyra. Buried deep in the Pacific Ocean, Palmyra Atoll is supposed to be an ecological preserve, but it hides the deadliest and most secret organization on Earth. It is called Fractal and it is an organization that guides history, determining how world events happen. With an army of brainwashed soldiers, and infiltrators in the strongest governments, its tentacles are wide and strong. To unveil the mystery surrounding his sister’s disappearance, Will Taylor must get to the heart of Fractal; but can he succeed?

This is a story that is cinematic in style, a novel that is filled with drama, and one that I won’t hesitate to place beside Dan Brown’s Digital Fortress. The writing is cinematic and it feels like one is watching the action on screen. The characters are exceptionally written, especially the companion of Will, Carter Callahan, the Former Division Six officer and current rogue operative at large. These characters are robust, multifaceted, and intriguing. Chasing Shadows is imaginative when it comes to the plot elements, compelling in the exploration of characters, and realistic in the themes it features. Global conspiracy is a subject that contemporary readers are familiar with, even ordinary readers who just have to follow world events on social media or the television, and this author picks such a topic and transforms it into a story that is exhilarating. Matt Stokes is a gifted writer who makes characters come to life within these pages. The tension builds up to a conclusion that is explosive and that makes the reader crave for the next entry into the series. This is the best thriller I have read since the year began, and I have read a score of them. It is a must-read.