I have just finished reading Family Matters - Evolution of a Killer, Book 2 of the Lazarus Chronicles, by Robert Ullrich and found it absolutely thrilling! Usually, I start with the first book in a series but for some reason ended up with book 2 and read it anyways. It was absolutely thrilling. I love the character of the hired killer, Lazarus and the way his mind works. The plans he comes up with, the connections he has and the people he loves in his life. Unconditional loyalty is a trait that is not easy to find these days and this man has it in abundance. Maybe that was the most outstanding character trait I loved about this man but also his intelligence, wit, humour and inventiveness.
In Family Matters, the author takes you on a journey of thrilling adventures, family love and debased cruelty of killers, such as a drug cartel boss, a psychopath, but also a professional killer whose humanity and love for the people closest to him stands in stark contrast to his professional life and his predatory nature. And yet, they seem to all have room in the one heart. The one thing I found challenging was my ignorance of military terms which had me look up things more than once but that did not lessen my joy in the story.
Lazarus is definitely a bit of a modern-day James Bond who has elected to work for the dark side. He has a beautiful woman he adores, friends he is close to and people who work for him that are loyal to him to the death. At the same time, Lazarus is not a fixed character and overly heroic in the sense that he would be too perfect. He has very real feelings and over the course of the book, the development of his character spans an arc of ignorance of his own feelings to realising that the people you love most, even though you are not related by blood, are your family and are loved just as fiercely as such.
I also enjoyed the supporting cast a lot, General Fischer, the "Team" of unique characters working for the military but are borrowed from the general for Lazarus' operations to rescue and avenge a friend who has been kidnapped by Los Zapatos, a Mexican drug cartel. And being German myself, the gay explosives expert who likes to flirt and make semi-x-rated remarks has given me many a chuckle and added enjoyment of this tale.
As I said upfront, this is Book 2 of the series and I had not read Book 1. However, that is now on my TBR and I am looking forward to reading it as well.
Family Matters is a strong story of a man with principles who proves that the world isn't only black and white and has well deserved the five stars I've afforded it.