The Second Horseman (2006)

I was slightly disappointed with the first novel I read by Kyle Mills, Burn Factor. However, it was a reader’s comment on my review that encouraged me to try another one (yes, comments are really taken that seriously around here). So this time I decided to read Mills most recent novel, The Second Horseman; I’m still somewhat disappointed.

Given the novel’s mere 290 pages, the plot is rather intricate. The main character is Brandon Vale, a master thief who specializes in big diamond heists, with a trademark of not injuring anyone to get the job done. He gets framed for a job he didn’t do, and ends up in the slammer serving out a sentence. With barely a year on his sentence, he abruptly gets broken out for a job (by some private CIA group) that only he can masterfully do. So far, I was definitely interested, and on board for the ride.

The job they need our protagonist for is a 200 million dollar cash heist. They plan to hit a cash run from a Vegas casino heading to the bank in San Francisco. The reason they need the money is that there just happens to be a dozen nuclear bombs on the open market that they plan to buy and shelve before someone more dangerous buys them. In other words, they can justify the thievery for the greater good. Things are getting thin, but I’ve put up with plots more ridiculous.

What follows really never lives up to potential. The “handler,” chosen for her good looks, is rather predictable as she falls in love with the one she was supposed to seduce. There are a lot of details left out of the heist, like how did they just happened to know about a nearby GPS tracking signal dropout zone. And really, who ever saw an eighteen wheeler with a Budweiser sign on the side of it? And what happened to the security and truck driver that were kidnapped with the loot? There’s some serious holes in this plot that conveniently get glossed over.

In my view, this novel needed some additional character development, some additional plot depth, and a rewrite so that it flowed better. I think the last Mills novel I read actually was a better book in the end. If you want a ridiculously plotted novel with flat characters, the The Second Horseman is for you. This author is definitely capable of writing better stuff.

Overall Grade: C+

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