"Fitzpatrick’s fast-paced narrative is full of sharp turns, many of which are charmingly unbelievable…."– Kirkus Reviews
U.S. President Tommy Burk faces off against vengeful killers targeting infamous public figures in Fitzpatrick’s (Fear Itself, 2014) thriller sequel.
The nation is shocked by the apparently accidental drowning death of former U.S. Vice President Richard Rumson. But President Burk and a select few others are hiding the truth: they’ve seen security footage that reveals that someone killed Rumson by deliberately pulling him into the water. The notoriously corrupt and deceitful VP had been out of office for nine years, so the motive for murder may be long-awaited retribution. Then shady mortgage lender Albert Mazola dies in a similar manner, facedown in a pool, and the president locks in on a possible lead: Israel “Icy” Colburn, who fought with Burk in Vietnam, specializes in vengeance, running a law firm that doesn’t litigate but eliminates. Icy’s current client may be the man behind the killings: Russian Army Col. Dmitri Vova, who has ties to the Islamic State group, which makes the ongoing assassinations a possible terrorist threat. At the same time, Burk is worried that collaborative articles by New York Post reporters Ron Todd and Tom Sweeney will divulge too much information about the murders and incite copycat killers. But soon, “good people” who aren’t discernably unethical are being killed as well. This nicely paced novel brims with political satire, some transparent (as when the villains know that Obamacare coverage will result in one victim’s death) and some more subtle. The lighter moments shine the brightest, such as Fitzpatrick’s depiction of the thoughts of Icy’s German shepherd, Natasha, whose unwavering loyalty balances the human characters’ back-stabbing. The author even includes an unnamed writer who’s angered Islamic terrorists with his book—titled Fear Itself. This touch also explains away a few inconsistencies between the two novels, such the fact that events in this installment take place in 2016, while in the preceding story, Burk was inaugurated in 2017. A few other errors distract but don’t prove too detrimental, such as Vova’s inconsistent first name (Dmitri/Demetri) and a gunshot suicide being called seppuku, a Japanese ritualistic disembowelment.
Solid political-thriller action that’s more focused than Burk’s previous adventure.
Fitzpatrick’s debut political thriller untangles the depths of government corruption in the event of a terrorist attack on the United States’ major cities.
Tommy Burk, a Vietnam veteran and general tough guy, gets pulled into the thick of a terrorist attack when he gets called in by his old commander, New York City’s Police Commissioner Riley. As the American Muslim Brotherhoodsets forest fires across America, three ticking bombs also imminently threaten New York, Chicago and LA—that is, until Burk proves them to be duds. This revelation embarrasses an inept, crooked federal government, led by the fumbling President Hilton, who quickly tries to frame Burk as the villain despite his heroic deeds. By the time the fiendish vice president orders a 9/11-esque attack on a Saudi skyscraper and then pays the fatal price for his actions, the government has really lost control. After repeatedly escaping capture and even death, Burk, Riley and their newfound ally, reporter Kelly Sullivan, become real heroes. Fitzpatrick’s fast-paced narrative is full of sharp turns, many of which are charmingly unbelievable. His portrayal of a government ready to lie, steal and kill is alternately hilarious and confusing, even using thinly veiled fake names for real politicians—e.g., Hilton for Clinton, Bloomfield for Bloomberg, Kearney for Kerry, etc. But the representation of the terrorist sect is a bit uncomfortable. Although, of course, terrorists aren’t likely to be sympathetic, stereotypes about Muslims awkwardly permeate the novel, occasionally even couched in characters’ racial slurs—“I don’t mean to sound like a racist, but a towel head is a towel head”—and broad conflations of Middle Eastern countries. The novel’s unpredictable action is usually more frustrating than fun, complicated by sometimes clunky, repetitive prose: “Americans were scared that they were going to be blown up or burned to death. They were seeing their country destroyed and were scared to death.”
A somewhat strange but mildly exciting novel imagining a titanic crisis.