A starred or boxed review indicates a book of outstanding quality. A review with a blue-tinted title indicates a book of unusual commercial interest that hasn't received a starred or boxed review.
Kent's clever and complex thriller, his fourth featuring navy intelligence officer Alan Craik (Top Hook, etc.), has one foot in the techno-thriller genre and the other in traditional espionage. Craik and his pal and frequent partner, Special Agent Mike Dukas, are fresh from a shoot-out with CIA traitor George Shreed, during which Craik lost two fingers and took a bullet in the collarbone while trying to arrest the turncoat. Brooding over his injuries, Craik is reduced to snapping at his wife, Rose (herself a hotshot navy pilot). Before he completely loses it, he manages to get back into action with a trip to Jakarta to test a plan for dealing with Chinese agents. Unfortunately, the plan is a setup; fellow agent Jerry Piat is on Craik's trail, determined to avenge his mentor, Shreed, who Piat believes was innocent. So are some Chinese agents in search of another of Craik's victims, Colonel Chen. The intricate thriller weaves together three major plots: Craik must reveal and stop the CIA coverup of Shreed's treason, break up a Chinese espionage ring that is communicating with submarines off the U.S. Pacific Northwest Coast and prevent Colonel Lao from using that intelligence to launch a terrorist attack against an American aircraft carrier in the Indian Ocean. As superbly drawn as the characters are (even secondary ones like Dukas's fastidious backup, Dick Triffler, and his deceptively ditsy secretary, Leslie), they are also multitudinous, with subplots and shifts in viewpoint to match; sometimes the plot is simply too busy. This is a relatively minor flaw, however—Kent's thriller is still top-notch. (July 8)
Release date: 07/01/2003