cover image Extreme Denial

Extreme Denial

David Morrell. Grand Central Publishing, $32 (480pp) ISBN 978-0-446-51962-5

Morrell no longer writes lean and mean like he did when he created Rambo (in First Blood, 1972), but he can still spin a tale of conspiracy that leaves others' in the dust. In Rome, an undercover operation by Brian McKittrick, the spoiled-rotten screw-up son of a CIA legend, ends in a disaster that's officially blamed on the interference of veteran agent Steve Decker. An angry Decker resigns from the Company; 13 months later, he is happily working as a real estate agent in Santa Fe and falling in love with his beautiful new neighbor, Beth Dwyer. That is, until the night a team of hired killers breaks into his house, wounding Beth and nearly killing him. From this point, the action is nonstop. When Beth disappears, Decker discovers, to his shock, that the killers were after not him but her--with the explanation going back to that disaster in Rome. The experienced Morrell reader will figure out the first of the author's surprises long before Decker does, but by keeping the pacing fast and the action furious, Morrell ensures that no reader is going to hold a grudge for long. Questions and loose ends abound but this powerhouse thriller achieves a runaway victory on the basis of sheer storytelling excitement. Film rights sold to Michael Douglas and Paramount Pictures; translation rights sold to 20 countries; author tour. (May)