Source: supplied by publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, ebook, audiobook
Genres: mystery, suspense, thriller
Series: Finn Thrillers #3
Published by Bantam on July 11, 2023
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Publisher's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Bookshop.org, Better World Books
Haunted by the death of his best friend and hunted by the FBI for war crimes he didn’t commit, Finn lands on an island paradise that turns into his own personal hell in this gripping follow-up to Steel Fear and Cold Fear —from the New York Times bestselling writing team Webb & Mann . . .
“Webb & Mann have done it again. Blind Fear has it great characters, an amazing plot, and an incredible setting. This novel moves like a hurricane!”—Connor Sullivan, author of Wolf Trap
By day, AWOL Navy SEAL Finn is hiding out on Vieques, a tiny island paradise off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico, living in a spare room behind a seafood restaurant owned by a blind local. By night he scours the dark web, hunting for the rogue officer responsible for the crimes he is accused of committing.
But Finn’s world is about to be turned upside down by a new nightmare, when his employer’s two grandchildren go missing. To find them, he’ll have to infiltrate the island’s dangerous criminal underbelly and expose a shadowy crime network known as La Empresa—even if it means exposing himself in the process.
As the children go on their own harrowing odyssey to stay one step ahead of a cop-turned-killer, a hurricane batters the coastline, cutting Puerto Rico off from the rest of the world. Taking his pursuit to the sea, Finn’s skills and endurance will be tested to their limits to rescue the lost children and escape his own pursuers before the clock runs out. No one is to be trusted. And those who are seemingly his friends might be the most dangerous foes he’s faced yet.
For a man who really, really, really needs to stay under the radar, Navy SEAL Chief Finn seems to have an unfortunate genius for rising so far over the surface that he can’t help but become a target for – not just everyone who is already out to get him – but also a whole barrel full of rotten apples who didn’t even know he existed.
Who end up wishing they’d never heard of him – if they live long enough to tell the tale. But if they don’t survive, they just get added to the body count that is already trailing behind him, putting an even bigger target on his back.
We first met Finn in Steel Fear aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, in limbo after his Team’s mission in Yemen went terribly, horribly wrong. Finn was supposed to cool his heels aboard the Lincoln while the fix went in to use him as the scapegoat for an operation that was even dirtier than it was deadly. Finn escaped from the trap when the Lincoln finally came to port, but not before discovering that someone aboard was a murderer and a saboteur – and that the traumatic memories of his childhood that he had been suppressing all of his life were finally breaking free – making him an even better patsy for the crimes that were being falsely laid at his feet.
Cold Fear takes Finn to Iceland, battling with nightmares and doubt as those repressed memories assault both his waking and sleeping hours, while he begins his hunt for the people who betrayed him and his Team. But as his first step in that journey is hunting the hunters who have been sent to hunt him – intending to follow them up their chain of command – the resulting murder and mayhem puts a local serial killer in his sights – and him into the sights of the police hunting that killer down.
Blind Fear takes Finn from the cold of Iceland in the winter to the steamy, humid heat of Puerto Rico in hurricane season as a building tropical storm out in the Atlantic plays will they/won’t they about deciding how big to get and where to strike.
Finn has been living on tiny Isla Vieques, off the coast of the ‘Big’ island of Puerto Rico, staying off the grid, helping a blind grandfather operate his fish shack restaurant and playing a combination of ‘big brother’ and ‘protective uncle’ to the old man’s two grandchildren, Pedro and Miranda, when, as seems to happen all too regularly in Finn’s life these days, a perfect storm of events puts him back on the grid as a literal perfect storm – that hurricane – comes barrelling down on the islands.
The two little ones have disappeared. They are not on Vieques – Finn has most definitely and thoroughly checked – and they did not board the ferry to the main island. Finn and the old man know something has happened to them – even if they don’t yet know what.
So Finn takes up the search – and takes it everywhere he can – raising his head very far above the parapet just as his pursuers – both official and unofficial – reach the island.
Which puts Finn in not one but two sets of cross-hairs – a place he finds himself way more often than is comfortable. Finn is sure that the kids must have seen something they shouldn’t have, most likely something involved the drug trade that is rife on the island. Which means that Finn has to rattle those trees to shake down information about people who will kill to keep their secrets, while the US ‘Alphabet’ agencies are hunting him.
So the blind fear of the title? That’s not the old man, as he’s certain the children will be back. Finn is the one who is blindly afraid, not of his American pursuers because that’s become old hat at this point – but of the possibility that he won’t be enough to save two children that he has come to care for from a criminal organization that seems too big to take down.
Just as he wasn’t enough to save his Team from an even more insidious and corrupt organization that might just be even bigger and more entrenched in a place that he can’t reach.
Escape Rating A-: I did get into Blind Fear, but it took me a lot longer than it did with either of the first two books in the series, Steel Fear and Cold Fear. I think that’s because the story begins from the perspective of the two children, and frequently circles back to their circumstances and that didn’t quite work for me. (But that’s a me thing and not necessarily a you thing.)
On the one hand, one of the things I love about the Finn Thrillers is that Finn is hyper-competent. And he didn’t seem quite as competent this time around as he did particularly in Steel Fear. On that other hand, he DOES still manage to find the next clue in his hunt for the traitor who got him into this mess, even if it did seem like he got more lucky than smart this time around.
One of the overarching threads to this series is that this is Finn’s journey, not just his hunt for the traitor, but his search for himself as the mess of his childhood gets exposed piece by frequently ugly piece. The nature of such a journey is that sometimes the runner stumbles along the way, and this felt like a story that dealt with more of that stumbling.
What made this story work was the combination of its realistic portrayal of Puerto Rico, a portrait not remotely tinged by rose-colored glasses or a need to paper over the hard parts to promote the tourism that the island needs to survive. Puerto Rico was every bit as much a character in this story as any of the humans and that was both awesome and eye-opening. And combining that portrait with the progress of Finn’s journey to finding, well, himself even as he pushes himself beyond his own limits one more time.
So I’m still fascinated with Finn and his hunt for the people who betrayed him AND his search for his true self along the way. Based on the ending of Blind Fear, it looks like Finn is going to be taking his fight a whole lot closer to someone who deserves it in his next outing – and I’m definitely looking forward to that!