cover image Deathright


Dev Stryker. Tor Books, $21.95 (315pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85386-0

This rapid-fire political thriller delivers all the high-voltage excitement, gory mayhem, trendy biotech-warfare lore and edge-of-the-seat tension that rabid genre devotees require. It begins on a remote Caribbean island where political prisoners are forcibly infected with a deadly virus. Close at hand are Arthur Pierce, a semiretired American intelligence operative; his daughter Amelia; a shady killer; and the killer's son, also an assassin by profession. Their numbers are quickly reduced as Amelia takes out the mysterious hit-man and his son reciprocates by executing her father, using a modus operandi a lot like that of his infamous parent (which leads to some confusion for the remainder of the narrative). Amelia takes off, armed with the operative's skills her dad passed on and a code book detailing the virus, its intended target and its awful power. Trailing her is another operative, who may or may not be on her side, and the son, now revealed as a killing machine with no name, programmed by a foreign power, tortured by a few scant memories of childhood and keen to include Amelia in acting out some very unwholesome fantasies. Stryker, a pseudonym for a pair of bestselling thriller writers, steadily ups the body count and plays several slick tricks with multiple murderers, skillfully keeping Amelia unsure about who's breathing and who isn't. The requisite shocks, emotional and visceral, come without ceasing. (Jan.)