“The Confessor” Mark Allen Smith (Simon and Schuster) – novel review

The Confessor Mark Allen Smith book cover

Geiger has left the information retrieval business and taken up furniture making. At the end of the previous book, “The Inquisitor”, he was left for dead and allowing the people he knew then to presume him dead suits Geiger. A traumatic past that’s not been fully dealt with has left Geiger able to withstand severe pain and also to lack compassion. However, the information retrieval business hasn’t finished with Geiger. Dalton, whose information retrieval methods were brutal and sadistic, is convinced Geiger is still alive and determined to track him down to torture him. Dalton has long been an admirer of Geiger’s work and has thorough studied Geiger’s methods, believing he has come to understand Geiger himself.

Geiger’s sole friend and former agent, Harry, is holed up in Brooklyn, suffering a combination of grief and paranoia. His all too human foibles complement his friend’s lack of an emotional life, making them a near-perfect team. He’s jolted out of his self-pity when David Matheson, an investigative journalist, uncovers some information he wants Harry to help him check out. Harry returns to his apartment to collect some files where he meets Geiger. Harry tells Geiger about Matheson and that both are travelling to Paris to investigate. Geiger declines to join them. Although they suspect it might be a trap, Harry and Matheson travel to Paris. Harry’s reasonably familiar with the city because his ex-wife, Christine, lives and runs a café there. She and Harry had split up after the death of their daughter and Christine is still amicable towards Harry. Later she meets Geiger and triggers a long buried memory which explains why Geiger doesn’t remember his mother. Readers already know of Geiger’s father’s cruel and abusive treatment of him.

Harry and Matheson’s suspicions turn out to be right: with the help of two operatives, Victor and Dewey, Harry and Matheson are captured and brought to an isolated country house where Dalton shackles them. He also tortures them, not for the purposes of information retrieval, but because he can. They learn Dalton’s real target is Geiger and they are merely bait.

Like Dalton, Zanni, an FBI Agent, is convinced Geiger is still alive. One night, while Geiger is out running, his image is picked up on a CCTV camera. Zanni tracks him down and asks him to do one more job. Geiger refuses at first but learns that Harry and Matheson are being lured into a trap set by Dalton. He knows that he’s Dalton’s real target so he agrees to get involved. In Paris, Zanni uses two operatives, Victor and Dewey, to follow Geiger. She knows Geiger won’t work as part of the team and will divert from her agenda if he feels it necessary.

Geiger figures that Dewey is following him and detains him with the aim of finding out who Dewey works for. Geiger learns Dewey is working for Victor who is working for Dalton. He doesn’t yet know where Zanni’s loyalties lie. Thinking that Victor will betray Zanni and so her life is in danger, Geiger tries to warn her. Geiger’s plan is to get into the house where Matheson and Harry are being held and give himself up to Dalton so his friends can be freed. Can Geiger pull off the seemingly impossible: keep Dalton to his promise to free Harry and Matheson and come out alive?

Although “The Confessor” picks up where “The Inquisitor” ends, it’s not necessary to have read the first book and “The Confessor” can be read as a stand alone novel. Background information is seamlessly fed in as characters plot, plan and try to work out what to do next. “The Confessor” is better paced: background information does not hold up the plot and the build-up towards the final scenes doesn’t feel rushed.

“The Confessor” is a fast-paced thriller with a difference: its compelling and enigmatic main character, Geiger.


Review of “The Inquisitor” by Mark Allen Smith

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