Washington Power Play

Allan Topol. SelectBooks, $16.95 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-59079-425-8

Topol’s pedestrian sequel to 2015’s The Washington Lawyer pits FBI counterterrorism agent Kelly Cameron against Liu Guan, the head of China’s Ministry of State Security, who aims to neutralize U.S. influence in Asia. Kelly’s success in stopping an attempted terrorist attack on Walter Reed Hospital results in a new assignment to an elite group charged with countering Chinese espionage. The players in this global chess game include powerful Washington, D.C., lawyer Andrew Martin, who has already helped conceal Chinese involvement in the death of a U.S. senator and is in thrall to Liu; assistant economic attaché Xiang Shen, a former lover of Kelly’s, who’s a hand-picked agent of Liu’s; and Gen. Darrell Cartwright, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who’s seeking the Republican nomination for president and hires Martin as his campaign adviser. It’s apparent early on that the Chinese have a mole at the top of the American government; it’s Kelly’s job to unmask the traitor. Topol’s mix of serviceable prose and workmanlike plotting doesn’t generate much suspense. [em]Agent: Pam Ahearn, Ahearn Agency. (May) [/em]