Matthew Fitzsimmons

October 2017

Thomas & Mercer

Disclaimer: At the bookstore, I usually hang out on the mystery side of the “Mystery/Thriller” shelf. But sometimes, a reader needs to stretch a bit.

COLD HARBOR opens in a very dark place. Matthew Fitzsimmon’s hero Gibson Vaughn is suffering through a brutally enforced solitary confinement. He has no idea where he is, or how long he’s been there. His sanity is crumbling away along the edges. This is no superman, this is a human undergoing a horrid existence. Just as it seems that Vaughn has no alternative but to end his pitiful existence by continuing to bang his head against the floor, he is released from bondage by his unknown captures. It’s a disturbing, difficult to read opening chapter, but it’s the necessary opening to the story, and Fitzsimmons guides the reader through this unusual introduction to the character and the set up to the story.

Vaughn is now free. Free to go back to his wife and child, and the life he had before his imprisonment at the hands of the CIA. But it’s now 18 months later. 18 months spent alone in a cell, isolated from the world. His wife and child are now gone without a trace. His home has been burned to the ground. And now Vaughn spends his time talking to his dead father and an old friend. Both of whom no one else can see. Vaughn is a man out of time who is surviving his ordeal with the aid of a fractured mind. Finding refuge with an old friend, Vaughn sets about planning his revenge on the government agent who set him up and locked him away. At this point, most authors would set the story firmly on the tracks of a traditional revenge story. But Fitzsimmons keeps the reader guessing by having Vaughn’s mental chorus play devil’s advocate for this course of action. In this way, the reader is always gaining information without slowing down the story with needless exposition. Fitzsimmons is also very cognizant of the symptoms of Vaughn’s PTSD. It’s never played in a light manner, and Vaughn himself is aware that his ordeal has damaged his sanity.

There are so many layers and twists to COLD HARBOR, that a basic summery would be doing an injustice to the story. While Vaughn exacts his revenge on the man who ruined both is life and his sanity, the universe steps in once again. Vaughn learns more secrets about his past and the adventure kicks into overdrive. Fitzsimmons masterfully fits together the myriad pieces of Gibson Vaughn’s past like a high-quality Springbok puzzle.

COLD HARBOR is a high end mystery with plenty of action, but be aware that it’s also the third book in a series. Fitzsimmons rewards new readers’ patience with the information that they need to enjoy the book, but readers will have a more rewarding experience by starting this series from the beginning.

So, am I a thriller fan now? Maybe. I do know that I’ll be checking out more work from Matthew Fitzsimmons.

And I will be spending more time on the “thriller” side of the “Mystery/Thriller” shelf.


Dan Malmon