Tuesday, January 7, 2014

book review: The Execution by Dick Wolf

The backstory: The Execution is the second novel in Dick Wolf's Jeremy Fisk series, after The Intercept (my review.) This review, like the book itself, contains spoilers if you have not read The Intercept.

The basics:  Shortly after the Mexican presidential election, twenty-three beheaded bodies are found beheaded on the U.S. border. Mexican intelligence officer Cecilia Garza recognizes it as the work of Chuparosa, a man she's been chasing for years. Meanwhile in New York City, it's United Nations Week, and NYPD terrorism detective Jeremy Fisk must keep numerous world leaders, including the newly elected Mexican president, safe.

My thoughts: After being surprised by how much I liked The Intercept, I was eager to see what The Execution had in store for Jeremy Fisk and the United States. Fisk is still reeling from the events of The Intercept, and Wolf doesn't shy away from revealing plot details. The Execution is clearly not intended to double as a standalone, and that's a good thing for Fisk's character development. Fisk is a dynamic character, and I particularly enjoy his antihero tendencies. He's a good guy, but he doesn't always play the rules.

Fisk shared the spotlight with another well-drawn character, Cecelia Garza. Her backstory is as fascinating as her present, and she demonstrates Wolf's ability to craft strong characters besides Fisk. The pacing in The Execution never feels frantic, but one of the reasons it's such a thrilling read is the sense that no one is truly safe. Wolf is a bold plotter, and I hope that continues in his thrillers. As a reader, I like to think of even beloved characters in true peril, as it mimics the realities of life so well.

Favorite passage: "Life. So strange the paths we take. I think that to meet anyone on a crowded city street, even for an appointment, is a small miracle. But for us, for our lives, to intersect again like this, twenty years after leaving the incubator of the university...it is not mere fate, it is something richer. Not necessarily fraught with meaning..but profound nonetheless."

The verdict: While not quite as compelling as The Intercept, The Execution is a tightly plotted, well-crafted thriller. The action is intense, but thankfully it slows down from time to time to offer some poignant moments with its well-developed characters.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 352 pages
Publication date: January 7, 2014 
Source: publisher

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy The Execution from an independent bookstore, the Book Depository or Amazon (Kindle edition.) If you haven't read The Intercept, I strongly recommend you start with it.

Want more? Visit Dick Wolf's website.

As an affiliate, I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!


  1. It's interesting that this book wouldn't work as a standalone. I read a lot of series where I think I could start with the second or third book and not lose anything, but I wonder what that says about the series as a whole.

    1. Admittedly, I'm a stickler for reading series in order, and I prefer the characters to have a strong progression during each book, so I loved that this book spoiled most of the first one. I'm curious if Wolf will continue to be so bold in future books though!


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