cover image Charon's Landing

Charon's Landing

Jack B. Du Brul. Forge, $24.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86816-1

Fresh from a caper involving an artificial volcano (Vulcan's Forge), geologist/mining consultant Philip Mercer finds himself imperiled by greedy Arabs, a nasty ex-KGB agent and ecoterrorists. The U.S. president's convoluted plan to end American dependence on foreign oil by opening up Alaska's oil fields sets off a lethal chain of events and international espionage. A scheme involving the United Arab Emirates government and ex-KGB agent Ivan Kerikov results in the Planetary Environment Action League (PEAL) wrecking the Alaskan pipeline. The action barrels from Alaska to Los Angeles, the Middle East to Washington, running up an appalling casualty list from land and sea misadventures. Mercer, whose ""smile was a challenge no woman could resist,"" finds himself involved with Aggie Johnston, oil heiress and PEAL activist. After some dim repartee (and her kidnapping by Arabs), the couple team up to foil their shared enemies. The writing spans the predictable (a bad guy is ""handsome in a cruel way"") and unclear (""His shoes were heavy and strident"") to historically incorrect (""the Fascist Revolution that swept in Hitler, Tito and Mussolini""). Despite Du Brul's ambitions for his dashing hero, Mercer (""I'll marry the first woman who leaves the seat up for me"") is no James Bond. But with one of Mercer's most violent, vengeful enemies remaining at large at the novel's close, Mercer is sure to make Bond-like, bloody and action-packed appearances in future Du Brul titles. (June)