“Mastermind” by Helen Goltz is an action-packed crime thriller with a fascinating premise: a competition for the perfect heist with millions at stake. With a diverse cast of characters, nonstop action, and a delightful romance subplot, this novel promises to be just the start of a series worth following.
There’s something morbidly satisfying about watching people compete for something. Especially when something big is at stake. This is why 90% of Americans watch the Superbowl or why “Dancing with the Stars” ran for 30 seasons. What if there was a competition for the perfect crime? Enter MasterMind. What starts as the investigation of the suspicious booking of a lab will lead Mitchell Parker and his elite team of the Trans-National Crime Unit’s office to run around the world looking into the most twisted rat race ever. Can they stop a competition with fortunes at stake that seems full of unscrupulous crime geniuses? “Mastermind” by Helen Goltz is a crime thriller that follows a fascinating array of characters while they fight against intricate heists, elaborate crime networks, puzzling clues, devastating violence, blackmail, treason,… and hardest of all, against their own weaknesses.
This leads me to my favorite asset of this novel: outstanding character development. The author brings to life multidimensional beings with developed backstories and their own struggles. Mitchell is not only “anal” (his words) but also guarded and with an obnoxious tendency toward micromanaging. Sam, another of his colleagues, sees her efficiency compromised by her impulsiveness. Adam is a bit of a playboy, and Ellie is claustrophobic, which can be quite an impediment when your job requires absolute equanimity at all times. The flawed nature of the characters makes them relatable and believable. It also leads to my second favorite asset of this novel: the authenticity in the dialogues. Though this book is full of action and high-stakes mysteries, the funny banter that such a diverse cast of characters hold gives a much-needed comic reprieve amidst the nonstop action and setbacks they face.
The realism in the characters sheds light on the work of the people that keep us safe. It’s easy and fun to believe that they’re all-powerful, all-knowing superheroes. I’m as guilty as anyone of loving someone like Sherlock Holmes, who seems to solve the most complicated crimes with mind-blowing ease while never losing his glamorous allure. But the job of real-life heroes has much more mishaps, danger, and red tape than that. And doesn’t acknowledging that make their effort much more valuable?
Furthermore, the romance subplot between Mitch and his roommate, Charlie, kept me on edge. Mixing the “opposites attract” trope (a sedentary psychiatrist and a guarded, action-focused man) with a “will they won’t they” dynamic makes this novel more rounded and fun.
Lastly, Helen Goltz also achieved the perfect balance between an ending with not so many loose ends to be satisfying but enough to leave the reader wanting to devour the next installment of the Mitchel Parker Crime Thriller series.
Does our past define us? Can people change? What makes someone a hero? What’s the meaning of true friendship? Mitch, his cohorts, and his enemies, will make us ponder grief, loyalty, friendship, leadership, greed, and romance. We might not have life-threatening jobs like the Unit does, but we can all relate to these aspects of the human experience.
I’d say this is much more of an action novel than a thriller since the reader knows early on “whodunit” and why. Therefore, I wouldn’t recommend it to readers who enjoy classic Agatha Christie-like mysteries. On the other hand, “James Bond”, “Top Gun”, or “Mission Impossible” fans will have a blast with this novel. Anyone who enjoys knowing more about the intricacies of defense and detective work or who likes books with fleshed-out characters can not miss the first installment of what promises to be an addictive series.
- Title: Mastermind
- Author: Helen Goltz
- Genre: Thriller
- Theme: Crime, Thriller, Mystery, Romance
- Publication Date: 23 January 2010
- ISBN or ASIN: B003XKNWPY
- Number of Pages: 504
- Minimum Audience Age: 15
(Note: 0=none, 1=a few, 2=considerable, 3=pronounced, 4=excessive)
- Sexual themes: 1
- Religious themes: 1
- Violence, self-harm, etc.: 3
- Crude language, expletives, swearing, etc.: 2
- Other adult themes: 2
- Content: 5 stars
- Writing Style: 4 stars
- Appeal to Target Audience: 4 stars
- Uniqueness: 5 stars
- Editing: 4 stars
- Other factors: 5 stars
- Overall: 4.5 stars
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