cover image No Time for Heroes

No Time for Heroes

Brian Freemantle. St. Martin's Press, $23.95 (472pp) ISBN 978-0-312-11866-2

Though not an entry in his outstanding Charlie Muffin spy series, Freemantle's 22nd novel proves one of his very finest yet, an impressive blend of full-bodied characters and nerve-plucking action. Fallen together once more are top FBI supervisor William Cowley and Moscow investigator Dimitri Danilov, first seen in tandem in The Button Man. Dimitri is now an outcast in Moscow's Organized Crime Bureau, blocked from taking on departmental corruption when he's called to Washington by Cowley to help solve the murder of a Russian diplomat quite likely committed by the Russian mafia, source of the very corruption Dmitri wants to fight back home. As he and Cowley find, the Russian mafia has linked up with Cosa Nostra, which is on its way to becoming a worldwide crime cartel. Danilov and Cowley rake through the Russian mobsters entrenched in Brooklyn's Brighton Beach, then head for Moscow, where Danilov's chiefs have been bought and obstruction is rampant; meanwhile, Moscow's mob families hit each other and jockey for supremacy. Their investigation takes the Yank and the Russian, working together and separately, to a nighttime shootout in the Sicilian countryside, loot in Swiss banks and two fantastic faceoffs with Moscow's top hoods. It all ends in a tremendous climax that leaves tragic echoes and may be Freemantle's most affecting ever. (Feb.)