Behold the Fire

Steven D. Salinger, Author
Steven D. Salinger, Author Warner Books $22.5 (384p) ISBN 978-0-446-52079-9
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-0-446-60620-2
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Weaving together elements from police procedurals, political thrillers and tales of international intrigue, Salinger's debut is intricately involving and full of memorable characters. U.S. Army Corporal Isaac Johnson (Zack), an MIA medic held in Cambodian jungle camps by the Khmer Rouge for 20 years, saves the life of Ev Ransom, an ex-POW and powerful illegal arms dealer for Parker Global, a New York defense contractor. Vowing to get Zack home, Ransom funnels Zack's fingerprints to MIA/POW activist Senator Antel Grantham, drawing the anxious interest of Pentagon insiders who are desperate to maintain that no MIAs exist. Meanwhile, execs at Parker Global turn up strangled, garnering the attention of NYPD Lt. Mel Fink. A streetwise homicide detective, Fink unexpectedly falls for a victim's widow, Marissa, who is closer to Ransom and to Global than Fink knows. Senator Grantham whisks Zack's mother from the Detroit projects to D.C. for a media blitz that outrages Pentagon officials. Ransom, Global, Grantham, the Pentagon, the NYPD and a Cambodian assassin all have spies whose reports spur the action. Marissa prevails upon Fink to spirit Zack's mother to Manhattan, a half-step ahead of the forces out to get them. Ultimately, Ransom and Fink face big-time killers in a conclusion that leaves enough ends loose for several sequels. Salinger cuts through suspense novel cliches with solid characterizations and a witty touch of romance without dampening the excitement or down-playing evil motivations. The authenticity of both the Cambodian and New York settings make this an uncommonly fascinating thriller.(Sept.)
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