cover image Deep Black: Death Wave

Deep Black: Death Wave

Stephen Coonts and William H. Keith, St. Martin's, $25.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-312-67113-6

Coonts and Keith employ a laundry list of familiar elements in their ho-hum third Deep Black thriller (after Deep Black: Sea of Terror): suitcase nukes, an evil Arab jihadist who calls himself "the Jackal," a female agent who's captured and must withstand heinous torture. Series hero Charlie Dean, one of the National Security Agency's Deep Black senior field operators, and his partner, Ilya Akulinin, have come to Tajikistan to chase down the nukes. Charlie and Ilya are in constant communication with the Deep Black ops center at Fort Meade, Md., via a transceiver imbedded in bone behind their ears. This back-and-forth play-by-play lends interest, but it also means if the agents stumble into trouble, they have resources that allow them to get out of danger far too easily. Suspense, such as it is, is heightened primarily by a character going out of transmission range. (Feb.)