cover image Burning the Apostle

Burning the Apostle

Bill Granger. Warner Books, $19.45 (341pp) ISBN 978-0-446-51693-8

With their eerily plausible plots and intriguingly complex protagonist, Granger's November Man novels featuring intelligence operative Devereaux rank among the finest examples of espionage fiction. This 13th adventure (after The Last Good German ) is a disappointment, however. Chief among the novel's conceptual flaws is a lack of real evil in the novel's many villains, who include an eco-terrorist socialite, a feckless U.S. senator and a Clark Clifford-like power broker. None seems wicked enough to carry out the plot--to cause a major nuclear disaster near Chicago in order to discredit the nuclear-power industry. The desultory way in which Granger brings Devereaux into the action (the PI stumbles onto the conspiracy while trying to avenge the deaths of agents in Lebanon) weakens the narrative, as do stylistic tics such as ending virtually every chapter with a portentous sentence or paragraph. In the end, little seems contemporary here (despite echoes of the BCCI scandal); the threat of an American Chernobyl-style nuclear disaster that could kill thousands, even millions, of innocent people should generate more drama and tension than it does in this uninvolving presentation. (Feb.)