Mike Wells has delivered an engrossing thriller pitting an international super-villain against a very capable secret services agent, in majestic settings throughout Europe. The third book in the original Lust, Money & Murder trilogy Murder, brings some closure to the money counterfeiting operation Special Agent Elaine Brogan has been chasing for some time.
The story has a high fashion, high stakes, and epic, feel to it, with a villain that has created a wealthy empire, where the affluence, settings and atmosphere belong to a world out of a James Bond story. In this novel the criminal, Giorgio Cattoretti, is a master forger, originally with branded clothes and in recent times money. It has taken him 6 years to master the fake dollar bills, ensuring the printing machine is exactly the same one as the government use, plus the paper, ink and security lines.
We are treated to Cattoretti’s background, coming from Italy he set his ambitions to rival those of his favourite story The Godfather in The United States, but reality saw him come up short and those with more experience spotted the play and turned the tables, leaving him to spend time in jail and then deported back to Italy. Now we appreciate where his motivations come from against his previous acquaintances and the US itself.
Following on from the first 2 novels, Elaine is not quite sure where her allegiances lie anymore, having been betrayed by seemingly everyone she ever knew, including her last boss Gene Lassiter, she decides to look out for herself. Cattoretti makes her an offer where she will never have to worry about money again, – just spot all the flaws in the counterfeit money and correct them, thereby making the forgeries completely undetectable.
The epilogue to book 1 in the series was very dramatic and played out a scene involving a casino, a hotel and a walk along a cliff path. We have not been drawn back to that scenario until this book and I just felt the connection was used brilliantly to cultivate a growing sense of finality which propagated suspense at every turn. The tension is very well crafted, with the reader wanting to scream at Elaine not to go with him and nervous that every moment might be the last.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and like a James Bond film left me feeling I had been truly entertained. The series may have been originally planned as a trilogy but the deserved success has now seen it reach 13 books. I would highly recommend this book.