cover image Savage Road

Savage Road

Chris Hauty. Atria/Bestler, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-1-9821-2661-2

In Hauty’s over-the-top sequel to 2020’s Deep State, a shadowy group of former U.S. government and intelligence leaders tasks White House staffer Hayley Chill, a covert agent for the “deeper state,” with running President Richard Monroe as a double-agent against Russia. Her mission is thrown into jeopardy when a hacker known only as Cyber Jihad launches cyberattacks against multiple U.S. government and infrastructure targets. As advisers scramble to point fingers at likely adversaries, Monroe feels increased pressure to launch a retaliatory strike. Convinced that attacking the wrong target will result in a major escalation of force with a malign enemy state, Hayley disobeys orders and pursues the hacker herself. Feverishly paced action scenes alternate with lumps of lengthy backstory for both major and minor characters, and too many operational conveniences and weak tradecraft erode credibility. This is the Hollywood version of an espionage thriller. Fans who appreciate more authentic fare should pass. [em]Agent: Ann Rittenberg, Ann Rittenberg Literary. (Jan.) [/em]