Pernicious Pursuit

A Howard Knight Escapade

Fiction - Suspense
294 Pages
Reviewed on 05/27/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Debjani Ghosh for Readers' Favorite

After spilling the beans against the criminal outfit The Organization, for whom he used to previously work, Howard Knight is under the FBI’s witness protection. However, The Organization’s reach is far and wide. It does not take long to find his hiding spot in the Netherlands from where goons kidnap him. His lover and partner-in-crime, Janet Weissel, barely escapes. As Janet tries to chart her future course of action, Howard, meanwhile, is doing everything to stay alive—barely. Will he survive The Organization’s brutal torture, or will he be another nameless victim of this nefarious criminal outfit? Read Pernicious Pursuit by Gary D. McGugan to find out.

McGugan’s Pernicious Pursuit is an action-packed, thrilling tale of survival where the odds are stacked against the bad guy with a good heart. The Organization’s boss is as ruthless and dangerous as Wilson Fisk, the crime lord in Marvel’s Daredevil. With its vast resources—goons, thugs, and top-level government employees on its payroll—it takes every iota of cunning Howard possesses to stay a step ahead of his captors. The cat-and-mouse chase throughout the book, coupled with short chapters, maintains the breakneck momentum of the narrative. McGugan provides detailed descriptions of the working of the criminal activities; however, this is not an information dump and does not slow the action. These thorough descriptions, rather, provide an insight into the workings of a criminal mind and a deep-rooted, worldwide nefarious organization.

Against the backdrop of such a formidable organization out to grab Howard, I was rooting for him throughout. I was curious how he would thwart the combined attempts of the police and the said outfit. Let’s just say, Howard did pick up a few important survival skills during his employment with The Organization. Further, there are some bad-ass female characters hogging considerable limelight, rather than being relegated to stereotypical, secondary characters as in typical spy thrillers. The third person POV of every major player in the story kept me in the loop of who was planning what. McGugan’s fluid writing results in an engaging, smoothly flowing story, and unlike many thrillers (spy or not), I did not have to suspend my disbelief even for a bit. The explosive climax acted as a cherry on top. I recommend Pernicious Pursuit by Gary D. McGugan to lovers of action and adventure as well as thrillers. However, there is a brutal yet realistic description of human trafficking, hence, proceed with caution.

Risah Salazar

Howard Knight used to work for and handle the finances of The Organization, an organized crime group headed by Giancarlo Mareno. He came to his senses, though, and ran away from Mareno's grip, taking with him ten million euros. This makes him a fugitive but with the help of his most trusted friends, he and his girlfriend, Janet Weissel, have been able to successfully escape Mareno's eyes. However, even after a couple of years of living warily, Mareno finds Knight in his residence in the Netherlands and takes him hostage. Luckily for Janet, they have been practicing her getaway in case something like this happens, and she is now trying her best to get to Howard's friend in Germany before the goons find her too.

Gary D. McGugan's Pernicious Pursuit is a thrilling read that starts with a bang. McGugan doesn't waste any time and gives readers whopping action in the first few pages. However, this climactic start loses its magic in the next chapters as the pacing slows down. Howard's capture and Janet's escape seem to drag longer than necessary. The characterization is great, though; the story is like a huge chessboard with a lot of pawns, but each one of them is well-defined. Even the minor characters are three-dimensional. Also, making Janet a strong and powerful equal of Howard, instead of writing her as a typical damsel in distress, is worthy of commendation. The editing and formatting are also done well.

Rabia Tanveer

Pernicious Pursuit: A Howard Knight Escapade by Gary D. McGugan is a story of survival and finding the truth. Howard Knight used to be the financial maestro for The Organization. Now he is in a witness protection program and trying to live peacefully with his girlfriend Janet. However, that peace was short-lived. He is tied, beaten, and thrown into the back of a van while Janet slips away from the chaos. Howard knows he is being targeted by The Organization and his old ally Giancarlo Mareno. He has to stay under the radar, move away frequently, and hope Janet is staying safe as he taught her. Howard knows it is only a matter of time before The Organization catches up to him. He has to think of a way to protect himself and Janet, look for a contingency plan, and hope he gets a second chance at life. What can he do in a situation like this?

Action-packed and filled with enough thrills to give readers chills, Pernicious Pursuit is a no-holds-barred suspense story that will keep you hooked. Howard is a wickedly intelligent and street-smart man; he understands his enemies and he knows how he can evade them. Janet, on the other hand, is very different. She is smart but is trying to make sense of everything around her. The pace is fast, unrelenting, and enough to give you an adrenaline rush. Howard and Janet are tested, they make mistakes and learn from them. I was holding my breath and waiting to learn what will happen next. Gary D. McGugan explained emotions really well; he gave a realistic outlook and made sure the reader was in the moment with his characters at all times. This is brilliant entertainment. I really enjoyed it.

Susan Sewell

The leader of an illegal multi-billion dollar international conglomerate seeks retribution from the man who betrayed him in the gripping suspense novel, Pernicious Pursuit (A Howard Knight Escapade) by Gary D. McGugan. Howard Knight embezzled millions of dollars from his crime boss, Mareno. To protect himself and Janet, his companion, from the wrath of Mareno, Howard offers his knowledge of the multinational syndicate to the authorities. As a result, an United States agency places Howard and Janet in witness protection in the Netherlands. When police impersonators abduct Howard in the middle of the night, Janet manages to escape from their balcony. Believing Howard has been gruesomely murdered, Janet covertly travels to a safe home he selected she go to in an emergency. While Howard dodges and skirts around his enemies, Janet begins training to assist those who are protecting potential victims of Mareno and his confederates. However, Mareno has almost unlimited resources and is actively seeking them. Can Janet and Howard escape Mareno's evil clutches? Will they ever be reunited?

Pernicious Pursuit (A Howard Knight Escapade) by Gary D. McGugan is an intense novel. The story is well-written, with a fully developed plot and characters. It covers some of the shocking facts and ethics behind human trafficking, which left me reeling. The plight of the victims is horrifyingly accurate and is a haunting, unforgettable tale. The background is artfully set in Europe, enhancing the plotline with an international flavor. This riveting story will entertain those who love exciting, action-packed novels with vile antagonists and unsavory elements the protagonist must overcome. Because of the explicit sexual situations, language, and graphic violence, the book is only suitable for a more mature reader.

Ruffina Oserio

Pernicious Pursuit: A Howard Knight Escapade by Gary D. McGugan is a well-written story with great characters. When the doorbell of his safe house in the Netherlands rings, waking Howard up in the middle of the night, he looks down three floors to see men in police uniforms. What he doesn’t know is that he is in far more trouble than the urgent police matter they say they came for. In fact, he is being hunted by a crime boss with scores to settle. Janet Weissel, his lover, barely escapes the men she believes are from The Organization as she watches while Howard is helplessly whisked away. Now begins a story of survival for both Howard and his lover, survival against the schemes and ruthlessness of The Organization. Can they survive and sink the criminal organization?

The first thing that caught my attention is Gary D. McGugan’s beautiful prose. It is flawless and the descriptions are apt and filled with a unique touch of humor. The imagery is strong and the cinematic style of writing allows readers to recreate scenes in their mind’s eye. The story begins with a strong premise: the protagonist is discovered and picked up by the bad guys he’s eluded over the years. At this point, I wanted to know what The Organization is all about and what they will do to Howard. The escape of Janet also excites the curiosity of the reader who wants to know what will happen to her and what she will do next. Pernicious Pursuit: A Howard Knight Escapade has compelling and memorable characters. It is fast-paced and crafted in excellent prose.