cover image Hostile Intent

Hostile Intent

Don Bentley. Berkley, $27 (400p) ISBN 978-0-593-33353-2

Bentley’s middling third thriller featuring DIA case officer Matt Drake (after 2021’s The Outside Man) takes Drake to Vienna, Austria, to determine why Nolan Burke, a former IRA militant, asked for him by name at the U.S. embassy. Russian operatives ambush the pair and fatally wound Nolan, but Nolan lives long enough to give Drake information on how to find his son, an unnamed Russian intelligence agent, who later tells Drake about a wayward tactical nuclear device being offered for sale by a Ukrainian arms dealer. As Russian forces mobilize on Ukraine’s border, a Ukrainian general, convinced that NATO will kowtow to Russia’s dictator and that his own corrupt “movie star president” will be ineffectual, intends to obtain the weapon and free his country of the danger from the Russian Bear. Drake and his team, including battle-hardened Navy SEALs, must prevent the Russian invasion plan from igniting WWIII. Exciting action scenes make up only in part for stock characters, over reliance on coincidence, and quickly abandoned and confusing secondary missions. That this book’s picture of conflict in Ukraine little resembles current reality may be the least of its problems. Agent: Barbara Poelle, Irene Goodman Agency. (May)