Formula: Another H.E.L.L. Ranger Thriller

Posted January 4, 2019 by Jess C. in book reviews / 0 Comments

Formula: Another H.E.L.L. Ranger ThrillerFormula: Another HELL Ranger Thriller by Gina Fava
Published by Gina Fava on November 15, 2018
Source: the author

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In Gina Fava's new international crime thriller, Formula, the highly-anticipated sequel in her HELL Ranger series, Formula One champion and covert agent Devlin Lucchesi and his HELL Ranger crew return to the Monte Carlo Grand Prix to win big, and a rival racer is fatally poisoned at the finish line. Devlin and the HELL Rangers suspect tainted grappa. They investigate Aurora Vineyard, set atop a hotly contested aquifer in the Italian Dolomites.

Threatened by extreme water rights activists and cut-throat industry competitors, CEO Erika Aurora, dubbed “the Bloodsucker” by the industry, hires Devlin and his crew to hunt down her company’s usurper. The cases intertwine. Devlin deduces that the Aurora siblings may be tangled in a bloody power grab. Things heat up fast when the killer begins targeting the estate’s sibling owners one-by-one.

Soon it becomes clear that a thirst for control and revenge is quenched only with a poison formula derived from the vineyard’s secret family recipe. The stakes soar when the formula’s lethal reach extends to the thousands gathered at a Palio horse race in Siena, including Devlin’s son, and to the world leaders of a global water summit in Verona. Devlin must risk everything to hunt down the killer and halt a poisonous calamity that threatens worldwide ramifications.

I received this book for free from the author. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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My Review:

Formula starts off at such a fast pace that I really wondered how it would be possible to sustain the momentum throughout the whole novel. I quickly found out…

There’s a dead race car driver in the beginning and then bodies just keep dropping. And not just insignificant side characters, but main characters are constantly in danger – they’re being shot at, poisoned, blown up – you’re constantly in a state of panic, wondering “who’s next?”

So the pace of the novel isn’t going to let you down if you’re looking for fast-paced suspense.

I also really enjoyed “the suspects.” The sibling owners of the Aurora Vineyard were interesting and fun to read about, as were the rest of the supporting characters and the vineyards competitors.

Unfortunately, it let me down in some other areas. Some of my mystery/thriller pet peeves are, admittedly, a little petty. But they are mine to own and I came across a few of them in Formula.

I had a hard time keeping up with all the different members of the H.E.L.L. Rangers crew. The main character, Devlin, was easy. He’s the leader of the Rangers, his best friend is Lupo, his “father” is Scotti, his son is Marcello. Outside of that, I had to keep going back to figure out “who’s who” in their crew.

Since Formula is the second book in the H.E.L.L. Rangers series, I’m pretty sure my confusion came from not reading the first book first. While Formula was a good read on its own, it’s obvious it’s the follow up to another story and I often felt like I was missing something from not having the knowledge of the first book. Because of that, it was hard to stay focused sometimes.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, but at times, there was SO much happening, that it seemed too far-fetched. The Aurora Vineyard is plagued with a lot of vandalism and protests so the owners are obviously used to such intrusions. But it seemed odd that police aren’t called in when people are shot at? I mean, it was just too convenient that everyone was okay with not involving the local authorities. (That’s probably just a pet peeve of mine, though.)

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On a side note that has very little to do with the book… The phrase “particular set of skills” was used multiple times, and every single time I read it, I pictured Liam Neeson in Taken. (It’s an awesome movie. If you haven’t seen it, you should!) So basically the main character, Devlin, became Liam Neeson in my head, and no amount of description to contradict that image could undo it.

There is a “romance” that is supposed to be developing between Devlin and one of the Aurora owners, Erika. The whole thing felt forced and I had a hard time understanding it even being a thing at all.

A huge pet peeve of mine is when I figure out the “mystery” in a mystery/thriller novel way before it’s revealed in the story. This happened to me in Formula and, although I was really enjoying the novel up until the point the “whodunit” was revealed, it was a real let down for me.

Basically, I thought Formula was an okay read, but it’s not something I’ll be re-reading. I’d recommend it for fans of cozy-ish mysteries with a touch of procedural flare (and Liam Neeson).

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