Spoilers in review

Nathan Edmondson has a good track record with thrillers, as proved by the recommendations below. He plots his stories tightly, engages from the start, knows how to leak the revelations, and will often throw in a wild card, which is what he does to end Dancer’s first chapter.

The dancer of the title is Quinn, a young Irish woman seen rehearsing a ballet in Milan, where she’s picked up by her boyfriend Alan Fisher. Quinn has an unfortunate night of shocks and revelations ahead, starting when Alan suddenly displays comprehensive combat skills in escaping from the police. What he’s not previously revealed is that he’s an assassin, with sniping his primary skill.

Nic Klein sets the mood on that atmospheric opening chapter, effectively splashing the action across the night time shadows and establishing a real world, even if the Milanese opera quarter is probably a little more glamorous than your district. He makes Dresden look spectacular also, that seen in the snow. Klein’s a full detail artist who doesn’t skimp on cityscapes or the assorted crap lying around ensuring an apartment looks as if someone actually lives in it. His people look their age, with Alan a little older than the standard leading man.

Edmondson has reasons for that, which is where we enter spoiler territory. Alan has a formidable reputation as a private contractor, and is surprised that a sniper would be gunning for him. Not as surprised, though as when he discovers that his would-be killer looks like a younger version of himself. The reason why isn’t a secret Edmondson keeps for too long, as his primary concern is establishing Alan is facing himself, only younger and fitter, with experience the only real area of superiority.

However, the story is titled Dancer, and Quinn has a purpose, and while Edmondson stretches belief on a couple of occasions, a lot can be forgiven as he keeps readers guessing until the end of this first rate thriller.