This is the third Alan Craik and Rose Siciliano novel by Kent (pseudonym of a father-son writing team) and its falls into a predictable pattern of military-techno action, minus some of the usual suspense. With the villain revealed in the first chapter, the drama relies on the ensuing chase around the world, led by married U.S. Navy pilots Rose and Alan. As the novel begins, Rose is on a fast-track assignment to the astronaut program, and Alan is on his way to a coveted spook assignment with the CIA, but they find their idyllic careers derailed when a highly placed traitor in the CIA fingers them as spies to cover up his own actions. Rose and Alan are bewildered and angry, but the stink of treason is on them. Aided by some loyal and highly qualified friends, cops, FBI agents, naval officers and techno-specialists, they struggle against time, bureaucracy and a shrewd mole. Meanwhile, the mole is jarred into premature action by the blackmail threats of a mysterious woman who knows his secret and is resourceful enough to evade the squads of Serb hitmen sent to kill her. The skullduggery is set against the backdrop of a war between Pakistan and India and a confrontation between China and the U.S., and loaded with gunfights, sex, some snappy dialogue and the aerial hijinks of supersonic jet fighters. The high testosterone doses satisfy, but best is the complex and clever web of motive Kent weaves for the mole, which is just about the only surprise in this otherwise ordinary thriller. (June 4)
Forecast:Kent's first two novels— Rules of Engagement and Peacemaker—were dynamos, but this one only treads water. Sales should remain steady, but readers may begin slipping away if Kent doesn't adjust the level of suspense to match his consistently excellent action.
Release date: 05/01/2002