cover image The Jericho Pact

The Jericho Pact

Rachel Lee, . . Mira, $6.99 (520pp) ISBN 978-0-7783-2416-4

Another melodramatic installment of Lee's Office 119 series sees the international police force racing to unravel a conspiracy that could lead to a 21st-century holocaust. After a series of riots in Europe culminate in an attack on the Grande Mosquée de Paris, the new president of the EU shepherds Muslims into "protection zones." As religious factions the Stewards and Saif Al Sharaawi prepare for the coming storm, agents Bächle, Renault and Caine of Office 119 investigate the mysterious assassination of the German chancellor. Elsewhere, priest Steve Lorenzo quests for a device of biblical proportions, which may prove instrumental in the current crisis. At times, Lee manages to whip rich atmosphere from her European backdrop, but her blunted prose rarely cuts through long-winded exposition, and her characters largely adhere to cultural stereotypes. The "elite" agents don't investigate as much as stumble upon ready-made revelations, and the villain is revealed so early that the lengthy investigation feels redundant. Tactical action provides some unexpected thrills toward the climax, but the journey there is a suspense-free slog, broken up by uninspired romance. Series fans will undoubtedly be interested, but new readers will find little to hold their attention. (May)