About the BookPenzler Pick, September 2001: Greg Rucka has created a remarkable character named Atticus Kodiak, a bodyguard who, together with assorted friends and associates, has appeared in four previous books. Before reading Critical Space, it's not necessary to know the sometimes complicated history of Atticus and his professional and personal relationships, but it helps.
It helps, for instance, to know that Atticus has been romantically involved with Bridget and Natalie, both of whom have worked on cases with him. It helps to know that Bridget has a very complicated past, which Rucka chronicled in his fourth book, Shooting at Midnight. And it helps to know that he has already had a run-in with one of the most deadly international assassins working--a beautiful woman who goes by the name of Drama.
It is Drama who takes center stage in this latest tale. After quitting a high-profile case as bodyguard to spoiled movie star Skye Van Brandt, Kodiak is approached by an old friend from England who is bringing the famous abused children's advocate, Lady Antonia Ainsley-Hunter, to the States for some appearances. After one near-miss with Lady Antonia, another attempt to abduct her is successful. But it is not a ransom or publicity that the kidnapper wants--she is merely bait for the real target: Atticus. A game of cat and mouse leads through the subways of New York, out to Staten Island, and back over to New Jersey, where Atticus is once again in the presence of Drama, who now needs his help. She has become a target of an assassin named Oxford, who is every bit as good as she is. Drama, who has some idea who might have put the hit on her, needs backup to combat this elite killer.
What is remarkable about this book, and the series as a whole, is not only the writing, which is crisp and concise, but the inside information from Rucka about what it takes to be a bodyguard, what the training is like, and how certain situations are defused. Rucka knows his stuff and deserves a wider audience. --Otto Penzler