The third instalment in the Jack Palms series picks up right where THIS IS LIFE left off. Jack is in hospital recovering from injuries sustained at the end of THIS IS LIFE - in short order, he’s out and in the crosshairs of Russian mob boss Alexi Akakievich. Before long all hell breaks loose and Jack is reacquainted with some former friends in Freeman and Miles who are a little more than a streaky blood stain of their former selves. With Czechs Vlade, Niki, Al, and SFPD Officer Shaw and FBI Agent Jane Gannon on his side, Palms takes on a foe in a death match that’s not for the faint hearted.
CZECHMATE is a short, sharp noir that reads like one constant action sequence. Hemmed in by pure brutality and basic instinct lies a deeper evolvement of character as Jack pulls the trigger and grows some cast iron balls, making the step from former actor to class act. Faced with a kill or be killed situation, Harwood pulls no punches in thrusting his protagonist into a world of pure unadulterated pain. This is as violent a book I’ve read in a while – yet it’s not without cause. Harwood uses each independent fight for the betterment of the overall Jack Palms story to tie the chaos into the broader continuity.
My only gripe with CZECHMATE is that it follows directly from THIS IS LIFE. While good if you've read THIS IS LIFE recently, I for one, had let too much water pass under the bridge between the second and third instalment and had to go back to the later stages of THIS IS LIFE to pick up the story. That saidm CZECHMATE is a very solid read - an action packed crime fest that doesn't let up. Bullets fly, bodies are decimated, heroes are born and villains get their just deserves. It's a nicely rounded story that's not too deep but sure packs a punch. I'm looking forward to see where Seth Harwood takes Jack Palms next. The Hollywood actor has rid his former profession - time to see how he makes it as a fully fledged hero.