After the rather disappointing Bishop’s Queen, the middle instalment of Katie Reus’ Endgame Trilogy, I confess I was on the fence as to whether I was going to finish the series. But in the end, I decided to read Bishop’s Endgame because I was still interested in finding out what happened to the third Bishop sibling Ellis, a former DEA agent who went on the run after he was accused of murdering his partner. The plot is suspenseful and the two leads are engaging and easy to root for, although the romance does move really quickly – which seems par for the course with a lot of romantic suspense these days – but at least the chemistry between them is evident, even if the ILYs feel rushed.
Bishop’s Endgame opens with Ellis witnessing the murder of his friend and colleague at the hands of Vitaly Rodin, a mid-level crime boss in Miami who has set his sights on making his way up to the higher echelons by taking out his boss and taking over his operation. When Ellis meets with his DEA boss, he shows him the video he took of the murder – only for his boss to take the phone and try to have him arrested. Ellis bolts and manages to get away and into hiding; intent on clearing his name, he falls off the grid while he works out what his next step should be… and who, if anyone, he can trust.
Arianna Stavish, a third-grade teacher, is Vitaly’s stepdaughter, although she has had very little to do with him since the deaths of her mother and stepbrother Max, who died of a drug overdose some years earlier. Traumatic events in her past drove her to drink, but now, aged twenty-five, she’s been sober for three years and is committed to staying that way. She’s in her car, about to drive home from an AA meeting one evening when a gun is pressed to her neck and a deep voice orders her to drive – but she’d rather be shot than endure another assault and tries to run. Her attacker subdues her with chloroform and the next thing she knows she’s waking up in her own bedroom.
Ellis’ investigations into Vitaly have led him to the conclusion that Arianna may be the key to getting the information he wants in order to bring the man down. He’s discovered a number of offshore bank accounts in Arianna’s name with millions of dollars in them and wants to use her – and the money – to get Vitaly’s attention. He’s also discovered Vitaly’s plans to release several new – lethal – designer drugs across Miami, and is determined not to let that happen.
Not surprisingly, Arianna is furious and scared at the situation she’s in; add bewildered to that when the guy who’s kidnapped her starts talking about the Cayman Islands and her accounts worth millions. But while he might be crazy, she finds herself starting to believe his assertions that he doesn’t want to hurt her –although she draws the line at getting on a plane to the Caymans to withdraw money and close accounts she doesn’t have. Yet when the man shows her that the accounts do exist and that they are in her name, it’s hard to refute the evidence of her own eyes.
We know who the bad guys are from the start, so the story is really about Ellis’ quest to find enough evidence to bring them to justice. He had believed Arianna was involved in Vitaly’s criminal activities, or at the very least, knew about them and had agreed to his using her name on the bank accounts, but he’s forced to revise his opinions and discard his preconceptions when he does a little more digging and realises something about the set-up is off. He and Arianna don’t get off to the best of starts, obviously, but I liked her determination not to be cowed by him or the situation in spite of her fears. Fortunately, it’s not long before she starts to realise that Ellis isn’t the violent criminal she’d assumed him to be and that there really is something to the story he’s told her about her step-father – and she agrees to help Ellis to get to the truth.
The plot moves at a fast pace as Ellis and Arianna – with the help of Evie, Evan and master hacker Lizzie, who originally appeared in the Red Stone Security series – work together to clear Ellis’ name. At the same time Ellis and Arianna are fighting the steadily growing attraction between them, knowing they’re facing an uncertain future. There’s a bit of insta-love going on, but the author allows the plot to take priority while keeping the attraction building and bubbling, so that by the time they do give in to it, the physical intimacy feels right and not as though it has been shoe-horned in for the sake of it.
Bishop’s Endgame is probably my favourite book of the trilogy, and it’s possible to read it without reference to the other two books, as the storyline is completely separate and self-contained. It’s a quick, fast-paced read with a high-stakes plot and engaging characters and I enjoyed it, in spite of my reservations.