cover image COBRAVILLE


Carsten Stroud, . . Simon & Schuster, $24.95 (432pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-4390-2

Betrayal among friends and enemies is the tie that binds in Stroud's latest standout novel of terrorism and international intrigue. When Sen. Drew Langan is given a classified tip that al-Qaeda is planning a bombing in Iligan City, the Philippines, where the United Nations is conducting a peacekeeping mission, he dismisses the communication as having little to do with him. Back at home, a little late-night Web surfing and an attempt on his life convinces Drew that maybe he should be paying more attention. At the same time, his estranged son, Cole, is embarking on a covert CIA mission just north of Iligan City. Cole is under no illusions as to the nature of the conflict he's stepping into: "What was actually happening here was obvious to anyone with a functioning cortex: Iligan City was the yawning iron gate of yet another United Nations feel-good rat-fuck fiasco, a doomed-from-the-get-go cub-scout jamboree that was slowly but inexorably sinking into the blood-drenched malarial swamps of Southeast Asia." Stroud (Close Pursuit ; Cuba Strait; etc.) switches between Drew's investigation and Cole's jungle adventure, heightening the tension as the two men fight for their lives on two very different battlefields. The military scenes in the jungle are superb and the stateside political intrigue suspenseful and absolutely believable. The prose is sharp, funny, exciting and bloody. This is a solid, top-shelf performance from a quality writer who never fails to deliver. Agent, Barney Karpfinger. (June)

Forecast: Although Stroud isn't as high-profile as some others in his genre, a solid fan base, big numbers on Cuba Strait and continuing film adaptations—not to mention the coming Jerry Bruckheimer film based on Stroud's Deadly Force, starring Johnny Depp—should ensure success for this one .