by Seven Jane and Serita Stevens
The Secret Brokers [Vesuvian Books, April 7, 2020] is classic noir meets modern thriller, with just enough twist to keep readers waiting for the next installment.
Fresh off a failed romance and thrust in charge of his former boss’ elite spies-for-hire business, secrets broker Dallas August has a job to do. The only problem is, something doesn’t add up—from the mafia kingpin who’s hired him, the questionable involvement of the FBI, or the enigmatic woman he’s been hired to de-secret. He can’t put his finger on it, but the knowledge Dallas was hired to retrieve from reclusive target Gwen Marsh may be just the start of things hidden. He’s just got to keep Gwen, and himself, alive long enough to figure it out.
Dallas August runs a dangerous business—an organization of elite spies for hire – where secrets trade and nothing is off limits. There is no price that is too high. When asked to uncover what recluse Gwen Marsh knows about a Mafia kingpin’s death, Dallas poses as a bodyguard to get close to his target, but the stubborn Asian beauty wants nothing to do with him. As the FBI and the Mafia close in, danger drives them together, but can he protect Gwen, or will Dallas be the one risking everything to discover what she is really hiding? Dallas August is about to find out how dangerous life can be as one of the Secret Brokers.
While Weis’s take on a spy thriller carries the classic elements of a crime drama—intrigue, romance, corruption—the story is as much noir as it is a love letter to the author’s home of New Orleans. There are mafia bosses, shoot outs, and the requisite amount of alcohol-swilling, but there are also references to New Orleans’ unique French Quarter architecture and the south’s deep love of their animals, both of which draw from the author’s background and give authenticity to the story that doesn’t rely on flashy settings and over-the-top sophisticated technologies to enjoy.
It’s more cozy than suspense, but what The Secret Brokers might lack in glitz it makes up for in curb appeal to readers who might otherwise shy away from crime drama—which is a good thing.
Part of this “curb appeal” is Weis’s ability to develop characters that are relatable and complex without being weighted down. Dallas August is a hesitant spy thrust in charge of his organization, a leader navigating the minefields of human resource issues just trying to keep his sanity above water. He’s also a man coming to terms with his new life and how he can survive his day job while trying to heal a broken heart. More interesting than Dallas, though—and what makes The Secret Brokers not-just-another-male-led-spy-novel—is Gwen Marsh, who’s very clearly not your usual damsel-in-distress and (mercifully) not simply an erotic fixture. She’s capable, dynamic, and she has more secrets than Dallas August has a chance of uncovering, which ultimately makes theSecret Brokers Series—a spinoff to Weis’s Nicci Beauvoir Series—something to get behind.
Once you are in, there is no turning back.
This is something that you’ll be glad you read.