Member Reviews

4.75 Stars ⭐️

I was excited to be given the opportunity to read and review this ARC for the first book in a new series, but if I didn't know any better, I would have thought this was a "new to me" author. I found Mr. Craven by chance and it did not take long for me to become a huge fan. I started with the Washington Poe series and was fascinated by the criminal justice system and the hunt for serial killers across the pond.

This book however, has a distinctly American feel to it and is an 180 degree departure from that series. We are introduced to Ben Koenig, but we aren't really given his history .......yet. We are given snippets and small morsels as the book unfolds. We know that SOMETHING happened to send him underground, but we don't know what. The book starts almost at the end, or maybe at the 3/4 part of the story and little by little we begin to learn about his life and the events that led us to this point.

At the same time, there is a new storyline going on and Ben is desperately needed to come back and help and old friend. A missing daughter is turning out to be MUCH more and there is quite the puzzle that Ben begins to unravel.

I have to admit though, I had questions long after I usually would have figured things out. The circumstances in this story were definitely a puzzle and I enjoyed trying to figure things out. Ben is a character, but I found that I ended up liking him almost immediately. I'm not exactly sure why, but I did.

I am definitely looking forward to seeing what is going to be next for Mr. Koenig.

Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this ARC. The opinions above are mine and mine alone.

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From Vanished to Vigilante: The Emergence of the Man Without Fear, Ben Koenig……

Book Information

“Fearless” is written by the renowned English crime writer M.W. Craven. Spanning 416 pages, the book is scheduled to be published on July 11, 2023. The audiobook version, narrated by William Hope, has a runtime of 11 hours and 10 minutes. Craven is well-known for his notable contributions to the crime fiction genre, including the popular Washington Poe series and the DI Avison Fluke series. In 2019, his novel The Puppet Show received the esteemed Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger Award. Thanks to Flatiron Books and Macmillan Audio for providing me with an Advance Readers Copy of this book for review.


Ben Koenig, the enigmatic former leader of the US Marshal's Special Operations Group, vanished without a trace six years ago. Untraceable and forgotten, he became a ghostly figure, drifting from place to place, leaving no footprint behind. But now, the man who no longer exists is thrust into the spotlight as someone from his past launches a relentless pursuit to find him.

In a high-stakes game of revenge, Ben is coerced into a mission he cannot refuse. A town called Gauntlet, nestled in the scorching Chihuahuan desert, holds a dangerous secret, and its inhabitants will stop at nothing to protect it. With his unique condition that renders him immune to fear, Ben is a force to be reckoned with.

As his face graces every television screen in the nation, it's tempting to dismiss Ben as just another drifter. However, underestimating him would be a grave mistake. Gauntlet's hidden powerbrokers have shed blood before and will do so again, but little do they know that Ben Koenig is about to become their worst nightmare.

My Thoughts

A gripping debut in an electrifying new series, Fearless is an adrenaline-fueled roller coaster you won't want to get off. If you're a fan of Jack Reacher, Jason Bourne, or Jack Bauer, you will undoubtedly love Ben Koenig. As the first book in this series, Fearless introduces us to a well-written story with a great set of characters, full of surprises and twists.

Told in the first person, the story unfolds through Koenig's perspective, allowing readers to unravel the plot and think through the mysteries alongside him. Koenig has a unique personality. He is cocky but also has a head full of random thoughts and facts. This personalizes him and adds a touch of quirkiness, even amidst the action-packed moments, often leading to a laugh or two. He also has a rare disorder that renders him incapable of feeling fear. Despite his disorder, Koenig is relatable due to the little details that Craven includes, such as his love for chocolate milkshakes and unwavering devotion to family and friends.

Fearless strikes a good balance with a compelling, intriguing storyline, thrill-ride action, and necessary violence (at least for this kind of story). The book maintains a good pace, with an involved plot and gripping action scenes that keep you on the edge of your seat. Craven's attention to detail and impressive research contribute to the believability and realism of the story. That is not to say that there are parts where believably and probability aren’t stretched—even to their limit—but that’s what makes a fictional thriller. Extraordinary events require extraordinary circumstances.

The standout aspect of Fearless for me is the development and depiction of Ben Koenig, which sets the stage for exciting follow-up novels in this series. The supporting characters also play significant roles and add depth to the story. As a reader, there is a lot to like here and much to look forward to in the future installments of this series, given the strong foundation laid by this book.


“Fearless” is a thrilling ride filled with action, suspense, and unexpected twists—a must-read for fans of Jack Reacher, Jason Bourne, or Jack Bauer. With its engaging plot, excellent character development, and impressive attention to detail, I highly recommend it.


4 Chocolate Milkshake Stars

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Fearless is an action packed adventure from author M.W Craven. Not often have I read an author switch genres and do it so well.

Expecting something of a Reacher Clone, I’m glad to say that whilst the similarities will always be there with this type of character and thriller, Ben Koenig is 100% unique.

The pace is blistering, the action is breakneck, Koenig is crafted superbly. He takes no prisoners and seems to have very little conscious holding him back.

High octane, no holds barred thrills. Craven writes a cracking mystery, and now he shows he can write a brutal thriller also.

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#1 Ben Koenig

This is a leap away from the Poe and Tilly crime books. It’s an action thriller set in the US, both of those are my least favourite scenarios, so you’re probably wondering why I went for this book. I love the Poe books and have faith that the author can deliver an action thriller with a more generic appeal.

Ben Koenig was in the US Marshall’s Special Ops unit, a group hunting the baddest of the bad. Referred to as The Devil’s Blood Hound. Six years ago Ben dropped off the radar becoming a drifter. There’s a decent amount of backstory divulged throughout the book.

So did this book WOW me? No it didn’t, but I was always going to be a hard sell with this setting and genre, but I found it enjoyable.

The intro was a bit more waffly than I was expecting, this is an author who is usually ultra sparse with words, everyone counts.

The first person chatty narrative helps the reader to quickly engage with the protagonist, he comes over as arrogant. I didn’t find him likeable, highly efficient yes, likeable definitely not.Hot maybe if you like the tough rough rugged macho types.

There are some potential triggers. However the episodes are short and not at all graphic.

There’s quite a few random pointless facts. It gives Ben a quirk. Some of his asides made me chuckle.

It’s imaginative and the level of detail and research is impressive, and comes across as believable and realistic. There’s plenty of action. If you love your weapons descriptions and an ex special forces hero this one is for you. Look out Reacher, Koenig is coming for you.

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A top contender for my favorite high voltage thriller this year. Don’t know why I haven’t read this author before, a mistake I will remedy. He’s written an excellent thriller with an individually unique protagonist in the first instalment of a new series. I can hardly wait for the follow up. This is an action movie on paper. For those readers averse to violent brutality, the story contains that element.
Ben is a multi-layered former US Marshal, you want to peel away the wrapping to see what’s underneath. His ‘fearless’ description is literal and physical, both helpful and problematic. He plans out complicated situations, strategies, next steps, and expected results like a chess player. Being on the most wanted list with a bounty on his head limits his ability to recruit law-abiding allies. He has to call on some forgers, hackers, and generally shady characters to operate under the radar. An old friend from his former life enlists Ben to find his missing daughter, a student. Who took her and why, what could she have stumbled upon while writing a paper? Is it even still a missing person’s case, or murder?
Ben’s pursuit of the missing woman lands him in the Big Ben area of Texas. (The author writes a witty, atmospheric rendition!) Spencer built a solar energy complex to honor his rock climbing friend in this obscure small desert town, in the far West Texas region. As Ben connects pieces of the motive for his friend’s daughter being taken, (with help from many great assets) he arrives at the solar plant. All this culminates in explosive, dramatic fashion. About three fourths of the books proclaiming to be a ‘Thriller’, aren’t, this one is thrilling. Some of the situations are exaggerated and improbable. That’s why it’s fictional and I expect to be transported in a high octane story like this.
Highly recommended! Read it! A digital advance reader copy of “Fearless” The Ben Koenig Series, by M. W. Craven, Flatiron Books, was provided to me by NetGalley. These are all my own honest personal thoughts and opinions given voluntarily without compensation.

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It’s been six years for Ben Koenig.

Six years in hiding. Six years running. Six years staying one step ahead of the bounty hunters.

Six years.

Success means solitude. Unnoticed. Unrecognizable. Until he’s spotted in a no-name diner in some no-name town. Ben has been elevated to the Most Wanted list and the TV station has Ben’s picture for all to see. The owner calls the cops and a whole squad of heavily armed cops arrive all focused-on Ben. He is taken to jail where the local sheriff puts him in lockup, but not under arrest, according to specific directions on his ‘to be detained’ directive:

1. He is extremely dangerous but only if he feels threatened.

2. He is not to be arrested. Only detained.

3. Ignore any credentials he may have. Confirm identity with a one-inch scar above his right eye in color of a fish bone.

4. Call a specific phone #.

5. Keep him secure, give him reading material from the provided list. He’s a Stanley Kubrick fan.

6. Feed him his choice of items on the attached menu. With a chocolate milkshake.

Six years ago, Deputy US Marshall Ben Koenig led a raid on a truly disgusting operation. In the process of the raid, Ben kills a 17yo boy – the son of one of Russia’s organized crime syndicates in the US. Ben goes to meet with the father. Dad knew the kid was a sick and demented. Wont’ be missed. But in his line of work, to ignore Ben’s actions would be akin to professional suicide so he would have to put a bounty on his head. Ben and the Russian work out a ‘deal’ of sorts. Give Ben a day or two to tie up some loose ends before putting the bounty on the dark web.

Six years he’s been avoiding the bounty hunters. But his past is calling.

The daughter of Mitchell Burridge, the Director of the US Marshall’s Service, has been kidnapped. Burridge needs Ben’s help. He’d never find Ben on his own so he put Ben on the Most Wanted list and let the public and law enforcement community find him.

Martha Burridge is a student at Georgetown Univ in DC studying forensic accounting. She was working on a paper about the death of a Hoya student maybe eight years ago. He and his best friend at Georgetown went rock climbing in far southern Texas. A rope anchor became dislodged, and the boy fell to his death. The distraught friend eventually went back to school. When he left, he started a green energy business naming it in honor of his dead friend. The business is a solar energy farm in the midst of fossil fuel loving Texans while bringing tons of jobs and money to Gauntlet, TX.

Ben heads for Texas to learn what he could about the solar energy business, the student’s death, the surviving friend, and most importantly, Martha Burridge.

Ain’t long before the first body shows up. Then another. Then another. Not all Ben’s doing. It’s when the company CEO and overall town savior gets kidnapped that the story heats up.

And does it ever heat up.

This is my first MW Craven book. Have to say that the writing style is quite reminiscent of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher. Much of Koenig’s thought processes and reasoning are downright Reacher-esque. And for me, that's fun. Koenig is indeed fearless. Nothing that gets in his way escapes the encounter unscathed. Resourceful and Resentful. That’s Koenig.

MW Craven is a Brit mystery writer of some note. He’s won or been nominated for most all the top mystery awards in England. The award I like is the Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year (aka: “the ‘most wanted’ prize in crime fiction”). He is the author of two other crime series: the Washington Poe series (6 books) and the Avison Fluke series (2 books). This is the first Ben Koenig book.

I liked this. A lot. Now to find some of his earlier works (Looks like The Botanist, in the Poe series, has achieved significant notoriety in the UK). Of course, the selection committee at the local library hasn’t seen the wisdom of getting any of Craven’s books. How downright rude.

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Ben Koenig was head of the US Marshall’s Special Ops unit. He and his team hunted the worst of the bad guys. During a mission, Ben killed the son of a powerful Russian mobster and suddenly had a bounty on his head. So Ben disappeared. The only way to stay alive was to become a nameless, faceless drifter. Until an old friend needs Ben’s help and special skills. Can Ben find his best friend’s missing daughter before someone can collect the bounty on his head?

Ben Koenig feels like a mashup of Orphan X and Jack Reacher. Orphan X is highly trained in the use of weapons and assassinations. Reacher is a highly trained investigator and brawler. But Ben has one trait Reacher and Orphan X don’t have. Ben has a rare brain condition that doesn’t allow him to feel fear. And that makes him very dangerous.

M.W. Craven’s Fearless was an entertaining thriller with a lot of action. There were a few spots where I thought the plot slowed down a little too much for my taste. But other than that I enjoyed the book. Looks like this is the first book in a planned series, so it’ll be interesting to see where the next book goes.

I definitely recommend this one to Reacher and Orphan X fans and fans of Mark Greaney’s The Gray Man series or Nick Petrie’s Peter Ash series.

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I really wanted to love this book. I really did. I love the Washington Poe and Avison Fluke books. So so much. I was sure I'd love this one too. Maybe my bar was set too high and it really is a five star read, just not for me, probably the case. But there we are. I have to be honest or there is no point doing this.
Ben Koenig has been in hiding. Due to his US Marshal (single L) SpecOps past. He did things that others couldn't/wouldn't. Involving some really really bad guys. But then, one day, he just upped and disappeared. Went totally off grid.
That was six years ago. A long six years of drifting and moving, untraceable, or so he thought. Until the day he was found. And brought back in. You see, there's an important assignment that only he can do. He is the only man for the job. He has this condition. Yep, here's the quirk. He does not feel fear. At all. Never. Not in his wiring. Which, as you can imagine, is as much a negative as a positive...
And so begins a Reacher/Bourne/Grey type action packed thrilling ride as Ben gets on the case of a missing person. Someone close to his old boss who was the one who found him and roped him in.
One thing that has come across from his other books is the humour and observational stuff. The chuckle factor was just as high with this one as for the Poe/Fluke books.
But sadly, not as for Poe/Fluke and associated characters. I really didn't take to Ben. I have nothing against American action thrillers so it wasn't that. Just maybe I am comparing it too much. I've already said I'm guilty of that. Maybe now I fully understand why authors write different genres under different pen names.
I'm not saying it's a bad book. Quite the opposite really. And I am not saying that not connecting with Ben is a bad thing. I've read plenty of books where I've not connected instantly with characters. Our relationships have blossomed as the series has progressed.
Yes, I'll read the next in series, for sure, I never give up on one and done. That said, I really do hope it's Poe's turn next time. I do miss him and Tilly...
My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.

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M.W.Craven took me by surprise with a totally unexpectedly badass abundance of pure awesomeness in Fearless. Packed with action and heart, this thriller stands out in 2023’s list of must-reads.
Fearless introduces an exciting protagonist with an interesting caveat. Ben Koenig cannot feel fear. Having served as the head of US Marshal’s elite Special Operations Group, he hunted the worst of the worst. Then one day, he dropped off the face of the earth. Six years later, he becomes a person of interest when he sees his face plastered on the news. An old friend is reaching out to him to rescue his daughter who has gone missing. A man of honor, Koenig goes feral on his new mission. Koenig may not feel fear, but the adversaries he brushes up against certainly must fear him as he stops at nothing to exact justice.
Ben Koenig is simply badass. M.W.Craven permeates his protagonist with an aura that just isn’t found in many thriller heroes out there today. Dangerously-epic dialogues are just the tip of the iceberg. Koenig is a man of sheer focus and capable of unbridled violence that he inflicts upon those who cross his path. Whether it is brutal hand-to-hand combat against giants, or fast-paced gunplay, there is no shortage of bone-crunching aggression that deeply scratches that itch for cinematic action sequences with tactically and technically sound descriptions that really are the cherry on top. If watching John Wick Chapter 4 got you all hyped for an adventure where the protagonist has a bounty on his head put up by the Russian Mafia, then you’re going to want to read this book.
The narrative is smartly plotted and unveiled with the right foundations built on one another to deliver genuine emotional resonance for Koenig’s situation. Digging into his past and tying his predicaments into present day storyline is pure genius and works effectively to connect the narrative in the most interesting fashion. Koenig feels like an exciting fusion of all-time favorites like Jack Reacher and Mitch Rapp but at the same time it does not take away from his own distinctive characterization which M.W.Craven nails to the T.
An amalgamation of espionage, private-sleuthing, and all-out-action subgenres, Fearless is masterfully written and opens up a plethora of fun and creative future storylines for Ben Koenig. A mesmerizing twisty thriller that you will not forget anytime soon.

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So anyone who follows my blogs knows I am pretty much obsessed with this authors books so I was excited to read this but with some trepidation as the action moves to USA. I didn’t need to worry. This was brilliant. The book centres around Ben Koenig who worked for the elite arm of the US Marshal’s office until he disappeared six years ago. But a friend needs his help to find his missing daughter and to help Koenig has to come out of hiding. What no one he is going to come against knows is that Koenig has a ‘condition’ that mean he can’t feel fear and that makes him very much to be feared! He also has some less dangerous traits, a love of trivia and chocolate milkshake - the human side of a killer.

Briefly, the missing girl was a student at Georgetown University. Koenig found out that she had been investigating two students who used to live in the same student building as her. This eventually led him to a small town in the Chihuahuan Desert, where a large industrial complex seemed to be at the centre of everything.

This was so hard to review without spoilers. Without doubt there are going to be comparisons with Jack Reacher and I’m guessing if it achieves the same popularity the author will be happy with that. I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t. The narrative voice was brilliant, and Koenig’s explanation of why and how things will happen was perfect; I know lot more now about munitions and hand to hand combat than I ever expected. The storyline was good but more so the different threads which kept me guessing and which all tied up neatly. An explosive read, non stop action, a great protagonist and evil James Bond like villains. What’s not to like. Bring on book 2.

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Well I was expecting an amazing read and that was what I got. What I wasn’t expecting was to check a hundred times within the first few chapters that I was reading an M W Craven book and not a Lee Child’s one. I therefore appreciated the tongue in cheek references to Jack Reacher as it grounded me to remember what I was doing, ha. The main character was extremely likeable and the action was fast and furious and with the right amount of gore. The plot was immensely clever and enjoyable and with some good twists and turns. I thoroughly enjoyed the criminal underworld aspects and the terrifying baddies. The setting in bleak desert was also interesting and well described which made a good desolate and atmospheric backdrop. If there are more of these to come then I’ll be very happy indeed.

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This novel was action-packed, that's for sure. I don't want to give away any spoilers, so my review will be pretty vague in terms of the actual story. I liked having the short chapters, sort of reminded me of James Patterson novels in that regard. You'll either like it or hate it; I like it because I feel like it makes the book a page turner as there's usually lots of little cliff hangers at the end of chapters. Regardless if there had been short chapters or not though, this one was a page turner for me. People who don't like that every aspect of a novel is/could be realistic, probably won't like this one - as there are a few too many "only in Hollywood" would that happen moments. I will be looking forward to reading the next novel in this series as I want to know what happens next with Ben Koenig.

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This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader.
A couple of notes:
1. I don't think I adequately expressed how good this book is below—it's always a problem I have when I'm as enthusiastic about a book as I am about this one.
2. I typically post about a pre-publication book less than a month before publication, this is more than three months in advance. I just couldn't wait that long to read it. See what I said about "enthusiastic" above.
3. Related to #1, I really don't know if this is all that coherent--I get rambly when I'm this enthusiastic. I'm also not sure I rambled about the right things. You get what you pay for here.
I'm going to be vague and/or withholding a lot here because Ben Koenig/M.W. Craven will give you the details in a more satisfying manner than I will/can. So live with that—or go order the book. (the better option)

Ben Koenig used to be a U.S. Marshal. Well, he never resigned, so maybe he still is one. But he's no-showed enough that he probably isn't anymore. Before he went off-the-grid six years ago, he headed up the Special Operations Group—a task force that went after the worst of the worst on the Marshals' caseload. They're the kind of guys that Raylan Givens would call when things got over his head (or hat, I guess).

Koenig literally cannot feel fear—which is a great asset in a situation fraught with danger—it's also a major problem. Fear keeps people from reckless and foolish moves. A move he might not have made if he'd hesitated a moment (but that he doesn't regret) put him in a situation where he needed to disappear. No one is better at disappearing than someone who is great at tracking anyone.

But something has happened, and the Marshals have to go to extraordinary lengths to find him. The Director of the Marshals Service, Mitchell Burridge needs his help. Mitch was Ben's mentor/friend/father figure, so he'd agree to pretty much anything. Mitch's daughter went missing from her college some weeks ago, and no one has a lead on her—no police force, no Federal agency. Mitch asks Ben to bring his daughter home (at this point, probably her body, but no one admits that out loud). And as for those who took her? Well, that's also best left unsaid. Ben will address that when it comes time.

As Mitch puts it, Ben's an apex predator and there's no one else who can do all of what needs to get done. He may be that, but he's been acting more like prey for a long time so he makes a few stumbles along the way as he shakes the dust off. But it's not too long before Koenig catches a scent and starts following it.

There's a figure mentioned pretty early on and then repeatedly throughout the book—it takes a while to know if he's a victim of something, involved in the disappearance, tangentially connected to the abductors, a dupe, or a red herring—or something else entirely. But the name keeps coming up, and it threw me.

The name is Spencer Quinn. Spencer Quinn is also the pen name of Peter Abrahams. Readers of this blog will recognize that name as the author of one of my favorite PI series, The Chet and Bernie Mysteries, among other things. The name is distinctive enough that it jumps out at you—it took me out of the moment each time. In a way that Rob Parker, Pat Cornwall, or Tom Harris might not (or even the non-nickname versions of their names). Will this be a hiccup for anyone who isn't a Quinn reader? Nope. Was it easy to get over? Yeah, but there's the instinctual flash of name recognition throughout.

Craven had no idea he was doing this (as I'd assumed, although I'd theorized that he could be a major fan or a major detractor—depending on how things went with the character), although I have to confess I'm a little surprised that no editor stopped him along the way.

Still, it's a cool name, you can't blame a guy for wanting to use it. Just ask Peter Abrahams.

The show Burn Notice would regularly feature the protagonist giving voice-over lessons on spycraft, weapons, strategy, etc. to the viewer, and that's the name I inevitably give to moments in thrillers when the first-person narrator, or the protagonist's thought process described by the third person narrator, breaks down the hero's decision making, etc.

I love this stuff. Almost every thriller writer has to feed the reader this kind of thing because most of us don't know how much pressure you have to exert on the trigger of Gun X to get it to fire, or why it's important that the guy on the left is holding the knife the way he is so the hero knows he's more dangerous than the larger guy on the right with the shotgun. Sometimes the protagonist—either through confidence (cockiness?) or to help intimidate the opposition—will deliver this in dialogue. I always appreciate the flair that gives.

Ben Koenig is great at this kind of thing. When he Michael Westons his way through the way he approaches a certain building in the final confrontation, why he picks the type of car he does to use on his mission, why he punches this guy the way he does, etc. the reader can actually believe they've been given some information they can use in their daily life. You know, the next time they need to drive a car into another state to locate the missing child of their old boss.

But my favorite Michael Westoning in this book—and the scene that hooked me—is early on when Koenig takes time to critique the group of deputies who came to bring him into custody for the way they went about it—location, timing, where the person with the shotgun was standing in relation to everyone else, etc. Sure, Koenig was the one being detained—but there was no doubt who was in control (and who could've made everyone's day much, much worse had he wanted to).

Incidentally, it's been too many years since I read the book, but you can't tell me that this scene wasn't a tip of the hat to Child's Killing Floor—and a suggestion to the reader that this character is going to be their next Reacher (who is also good at Michael Westoning).

I'm not going to try to claim that I'm an expert on M.W. Craven—but I'm fairly familiar with his work (I've read 6 of his 7 previously published novels—don't ask me to explain the missing one). It's easy to see that the Avison Fluke novels are written by the same author that gave us the Washington Poe novels. This makes sense, it's fairly common amongst writers of multiple series—no one is surprised to learn that the Mickey Haller books are written by Bosch's creator; the Sunny Randall and Virgil Cole/Everett Hitch series and the stand-alone Double Play are clearly the work of the Spenser writer; even if John Rebus wasn't Malcolm Fox's white whale, everyone could tell those series were written by the same man; and so on.

But Fearless? It probably took me less than 50 pages to stop thinking of this as 'the new Craven' book and 'the first Koenig' book. If Koenig shares any DNA with Fluke or Poe, it'd take 23andMe or to figure it out. If you know nothing about Craven's previous work, all you'll see is someone writing a book in the mold of Jack Reacher and Peter Ash—with a little bit of Nick Mason and Nick Heller thrown in. Well, writing in that mold—and matching each series at their best.

I think the past 5 years have demonstrated pretty clearly that I'm probably going to love whatever Craven writes—and now I know that's true even if it doesn't feel like a Craven book.

This just worked on every level—Koenig is a fertile character, well-designed to carry a series for quite a while. His assets are perfect for a Reacher/Peter Ash-type character. His flaws keep him from being invincible, and provide plenty of ways for him to be his own greatest adversary. His quirks (e.g., fixation on chocolate milkshakes, absorption of odd bits of trivia) round him out nicely. The reason he's off the grid is better than being a Luddite/technophobe. Can he grow—and can the reader grow in their understanding of him? Sure. He can also believably regress and find develop new hindrances and weaknesses to work through or overcome.

The narrative voice that Craven uses here will suck in the reader and keep the pages turning between action scenes. The action scenes might as well be directed by John McTiernan, Shane Black, or Chad Stahelski. I don't know how "realistic" they are, but I don't think you have to suspend much disbelief. And they're so fun, who cares?

The story could have been a little more intricate—just a tad. But given everything else that this book had to do—introduce Koenig, establish the series and his backstory, provide some good potential recurring characters—some things have to be sacrificed. Then again, I can point to several beloved and best-selling thrillers that aren't as intricate as this one. So don't take this point as anything but me being greedy.

I did have a quibble or two with the novel—it's not perfect. But I hesitate to get into them as I read an ARC, and there's still a chance for them to vanish before publication. Also, they're pretty much at the straining at gnats level, and I try to avoid that. In the end, those quibbles only serve to underline how great the rest of it is.

This is clearly the first in a series (even if all the promotional materials didn't call it that, you'd get that sense throughout—and the last five pages make it abundantly clear that there's more to come. So I do think future books will have a slightly different flavor than this one—which could've very easily served as a standalone.

To put it simply, I loved every second I spent reading this, Fearless was the highlight of the month for me—and I expect that I'll keep talking about it throughout the year—I can't wait for it to get published here so that American audiences can meet Craven. Put your orders in now, folks, July will be here before you know it, and you don't want to miss this.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Flatiron Books via NetGalley, and an ARC from Flatiron with an assist from the author in exchange for this post—thanks to all involved for this. Their providing it only influenced my opinion by giving me something to opine about—I raved about it of my own free will.

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Ben Koenig has been hiding under the radar for six years. His former boss, Mitch, now wants him back in civilization in order to help find his missing daughter. Once a member of a special ops division of the government, Ben is no longer wanting to turn back the clock. However, Mitch has had his back a multitude of time and Ben feels like he owes him.

Ben has a physiological anomaly - he can't feel fear. No matter what the situation or how dangerous it is, Ben is immune to a fear response. This leads him to very unusual interactions that have the potential to destroy him.

Despite the thriller aspect to this novel, it didn't really grab me. I prefer books that are more character driven rather than jet-propelled by action. I enjoyed meeting Samuel, the character that provided Ben with credit cards, drivers license and all the other identities that would make him 'real'.

Some of the situations, like the one at Georgetown University were interesting but not interesting enough to keep me quickly turning the pages. As Ben travels to the west, following leads, it becomes a zero sum game.

I think this is a book for hardcore thriller lovers but it just didn't work that well for me.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an early review copy of this book.

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This is one of the most exciting books I have read recently. Great characters and just all around a great story. Can't wait for his next book

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This is the first book in a projected series featuring former U.S. Marshal and current fugitive Ben Koenig. He is an interesting character. He’s very intelligent, highly trained, and ruthless towards his enemies. And when action is called for, he is decisive. Ben employs no half measures, and he does not equivocate in word or deed. If a butt needs to be kicked, he’s first in line to give it the boot.

Instead of possessing extraordinary physical gifts, however, Ben is fearless. Literally, fearless. Due to a medical condition called Urbach-Wiethe syndrome, he does not have trepidation or self-preservation as part of his calculus when deciding his next course of action. That characteristic, of course, is both his greatest strength and his greatest weakness.

In these complex times, it’s comforting to read a book where the landscape is mostly black-and-white, good guys vs. bad guys, and that’s what is presented in Fearless. In pursuit of his ultimate objective, Ben is certainly a remorseless killing machine. It is compelling to follow his methodical thought process and logical deductions in getting the job done, and these are explained thoroughly. The sensitive reader might get a little queasy with some of the detailed descriptions of the havoc he wreaks on his enemies, but that is part of this type of action-packed thriller. Suffice it to say that the author knows his stuff when it comes to the types of damage that can be inflicted on the human body by various weapons and techniques, and he is not shy about sharing that knowledge.

Fearless is a compelling addition to the sub-genre of thriller that features hyper-competent and morally upstanding ex-military types who go about achieving their goals by any means necessary. It has nonstop action, bad guys that are easy to hate, and a compelling protagonist. Based on the threads left hanging, there are a lot of potential directions that the narrative can take in the future. I look forward to additional books in this series.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Flatiron Books through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Thanks to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for an advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review.

4+ stars

Fast paced thriller. I got Jack Reacher vibes and chuckled when he was named in the book. Ben Koenig is a highly trained US Marshal who disappeared six years ago. He has been traveling around the country staying under the radar. Ben is flushed out and given the task to find a missing woman. Lots of action as Ben searches and figures out who is behind the kidnapping.

This was my first book by M.W. Craven and I look forward to reading more in the future.

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"Fearless," from author M.V. Craven and Flatiron Books (who graciously provided me with the ARC upon which this brief review is predicated) was a fascinating read. It started out slowly but rather quickly turned into a delightful take on the popular action genre. The main character, who appears ready to appear in future works, had a very colorful career with the U. S. Marshall's Service, but his chief defining characteristic (or "hook" as it were) is that he, quite literally, is incapable of fear. This makes him a fascinating asset to the National Security complex, and how that plays out in the book is kind of central to events. Just as interesting is watching (this book is highly cinematic) the unique way in which the main character, Ben Koenig, responds to situations you have seen in any number of works in this genre. To say that his approach tends to be unique doesn't do him justice. Much of his success in dealing with everything from Russian mob figures to domestic criminals and assorted psycho and sociopaths is based on his unpredictability (linked to his irrational absence of fear). That said, there are some Deus Ex Machina in play, and that sometimes detracts from the reality of the author's tale, but hey, this is show biz, and you need to be willing to suspend a good bit of your disbelief, but once you do that you will be startled by the kind of insights you might gain towards human behavior and its predictability. Worth the read, and I look forward to the next effort from this author.

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M.W.Craven is best known for his Tilly and Poe books, the hugely popular British crime series. These are sharp, intelligent and with plenty of character and humour.

I couldn't wait to see what M.W.Craven would make of an all-action, American set thriller.

Ben Koenig used to head the US Marshal's elite Special Operations Group. Six years ago he vanished, and he's been living under the radar ever since. Koenig has a rare neurological conditional which means he doesn't feel fear. Ben Koenig is Fearless.

A close friend's daughter disappears and Koenig is the only hope of rescue, or revenge.

Action thrillers aren't a genre I'd usually choose, but M.W.Craven is a favourite author, I'll read everything he writes.

There's plenty happening, a good pace, an involved plot and some great action scenes. It's M.W.Craven's writing that really makes this works. There's humour and a geeky level of detail, on his special forces training, the technicalities of the weapons, local geographic details and bone shattering violence.

There are Jason Bourne and James Bond style events and the whole thing works brilliantly. It needs to be a movie!

I know M.W.Craven fans will love it, and I think the wider action thriller readers will love it too.

Thanks to Netgalley and Flatiron Books

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Fantastic all around. As a fan of M.W Craven, I was not disappointed. Thank you to the publisher for allowing me to read this one early. This book was different to what I expected but in the best way. Highly recommended. I suspect that Tilly and Poe fans will enjoy this one too. Looking forward to more novels.

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