Rock, Paper, Scissors: A Novel of Political Intrigue

Steve Samuel, Author
Steve Samuel, Author Simon & Schuster $25 (320p) ISBN 978-0-684-82343-0
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Cloak and dagger thrills and counterterrorist gamesmanship fuel this lively but precariously plotted tale of a Secret Service agent with a tragic history, who is stuck in a dangerous dilemma when she learns too much about the man she is assigned to protect. As a young child, Sarah Peterson saw her CIA agent father shot dead. Now a top-echelon government agent herself, she is personally selected by the president to head security for Secretary of State Jack Montgomery. It turns out, however, that Montgomery is a cold and devious man, well versed in illegal operations. Now he has secretly orchestrated the abduction of billionaire industrialist Sam Baldwin's daughter in order to force Baldwin to drop his plans to assassinate Saddam Hussein, which would leave a vacuum of power in the Middle East. When Sarah finds out about both plots, her life, too, is in jeopardy. As she struggles to do the right thing, stay alive and rescue Baldwin's innocent daughter, she may also discover the truth behind her father's murder. Debut novelist Samuel's attempts to surprise result in some unconvincing plot twists, and he expends considerable energy establishing the wily ultra-sophistication of his conspirators and commandos, only to have them done in by amateurish mistakes. The narrative also seems to set up several showdowns--notably one between Sarah and the man behind her father's death--that never occur. Ultimately, the international espionage and highly imaginative scope of the main conspiracies fail to provide white-knuckled suspense. (Aug.)
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