After five long years, Allan Folsom, author of the blockbuster thrillers The Day After Tomorrow and Day of Confession, has finally released his third novel. The Exile, arguably Folsom's most moving novel to date, is also his bloodiest. Equal parts mystery and suspense thriller, The Exile revolves around John Barron, the youngest cop on the LAPD's elite 5-2 squad, the hundred-year-old special situations section of the Robbery-Homicide Division. These clandestine vigilantes are judge and jury to Southern California's most heinous criminals, and the sentence is always the same: death. When members of the 5-2 corner an escaped prisoner and his hostage in a vacant parking garage, Barron is initiated into the squad with a baptism of blood. The escapee is heartlessly assassinated and the hostage taken in for questioning. The hostage, however, turns out to be an international hitman who escapes from a jail full of police officers and leaves a trail of dead bodies in his wake. As the members of the 5-2 track this elusive killer (identified as Raymond Thorne on his passport), Barron goes against policy and tries to take in the escaped killer by the book. His seemingly scrupulous decision backfires and most of the 5-2 is killed in a vicious shootout. Shortly thereafter, the infamous squad is disbanded and Barron is told in no uncertain terms to retire and leave the area immediately or else. He takes his psychologically impaired sister, changes his name and moves to England to start a new life. But the bloody mystery surrounding Raymond Thorne won't go away. Who was he? Why was he killing affluent Russian immigrants? When one of Thorne's old targets is murdered in Paris, Barron takes up the case again and is led to Russia, where Thorne's true name and ultimate mission are revealed.

While The Exile is definitely not for the faint of heart (readers will need a calculator to keep up with the ever-escalating body count), fans of Folsom's previous works will undoubtedly put this novel on national bestseller lists. Paul Goat Allen is a freelance editor and writer in Syracuse, New York.

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