I truly didn't expect to find a gem like this on Smashwords, especially since it's being given away as a free e-book.
But a gem it is, if you like very, very bad villains and fast-paced thrillers.
It's so good, in fact, that it went into my Read/Keep category (I usually delete ebooks when I'm done reading them). I'll try not to give away too much of the plot, which is always the fine line in any book review.
What I like about the villain in this piece is the way he plays mind games with his victims. It totally raises the thrill level. This isn't a guy who just guns down his opponents. After reading this book, you'll consider THAT kind of villain crude and crass – and probably not worthy of your time.
Starting with Martin Cormac, the main character of the book, this book plays with your mind from beginning to end. Cormac experiences one of those life-changing events and chooses to react by getting drunk in a variety of locations around Southeast Asia. A chance encounter in a bar brings him in contact with the villain and sets off another chain of life-changing events for Cormac – and a rollercoaster ride of a thriller for the reader. This time, however, Cormac isn't trying to drown his guilt, he's trying to stay alive.
I don't know anything about sailing; obviously, it's a passion for Chisnell, and a centerpiece of the thrill portion of this book. However, you don't need to know anything about sailing or racing to realize that the middle of any ocean is a great setting for a thriller (Dead Calm, anyone?) The action had me reading as fast as I could and turning the pages, anxious and yet reluctant to reach the end of the story. Don't you just hate/ love it when you're dying to know how things turn out – but that will also mean the end of the book? Only a really good author can create such a dilemma in a reader, and Chisnell certainly accomplishes it with this book.
I also have to credit Chisnell with having the balls to acquaint readers with characters and make us like them before they get killed. You just don't see that very often in fiction. (Why develop a character if you know he or she is going to be dead soon?) It makes the killing all that much more shocking, because we've come to expect that when an author develops a character, it isn't for the purpose of brutally killing them in a couple of chapters, right? Chisnell has no such restraint, and it makes the story even better. (Trying really hard here not to give much away, but I have to give props to the author for this.)
If you're a fan of fast-paced psychological thrillers, you'll love The Defector. Chances are, you'll be so wrapped up in it, you'll go out and read the sequel, The Wrecking Crew (also available for free at Smashwords) before I have a chance to review it.