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Crux - Richard Aellen Keith Johnson is happily married and pursuing a career as a helicopter pilot when he’s sent to Vietnam. When evidence suggests his sergeant has killed one of his own men, Keith is unable to keep silent. Unfortunately, one of his friends is willing to betray him for a chance at a safer posting and his sergeant is desperate to get rid of him. Sent on a mission meaning almost certain death, Keith is reported as missing in action but actually survives only to be thrown into a prison camp for 20 years. When he eventually escapes, his only thought is of revenge.

I loved Crux, in large part because it felt to me like almost exactly what Dumas would have written had he set his novel during the Vietnam war. The author included all of the things I loved about the first book, including the sense of adventure; the mystery surrounding Keith when he reappears a wealthy man; and the mentoring relationship he has with a fellow prisoner. He also keeps the focus on revenge and the question of what betrayal can do to an otherwise good person. Although some of the things he changed might bother other people, I loved the Keith was less arrogant than the original hero and also less willing to sacrifice innocent lives.

At first, I didn’t find Crux that suspenseful as it followed the path marked out by the original story. Fortunately, while the premise and the feel of the original were preserved, the details of the ending were all new. By the last hundred pages I was desperately wanting to stay up much later than I should just to find out what happened next. Lately I’ve read a number of thrillers that just read like every other action-packed thriller to me and this book was different. Although it did enjoyably amp up the action at the end, there was also the deeper focus of the original on Keith/Edmond’s character development and the themes of betrayal and revenge. That added depth made this both an exceptional thriller and a great homage to the original Count of Monte Cristo.

This review first published on Doing Dewey.