Gough abandons Vancouver cops Willows and Parker (The Goldfish Bowl, Silent Knives) for international intrigue: a rogue American's plot to assassinate Col. Qaddafi. Cairo operative Jack Downey's CIA boss, Richard Foster, thinks Downey wants to assemble a team to grease the wheels for the defection of a Libyan military strongman, but there's no way that Foster can ignore the peculiar kind of people Downey's gone after—safecracker Charlie McPhee (a last-minute replacement for another safecracker who got himself killed, if only Foster knew); Londoner antiques dealer Jennifer Forsyth, whose father was tortured and killed ten years ago by Qaddafi's goons; and two matter-of-fact hit men, Hubie Sweets and Mungo Martin (``Killing people was thirsty work''). As Foster is figuring out how to find Downey's secret base of operations and shut it down, the conspirators are off in the Egyptian desert taking five- mile jaunts with full field packs to toughen themselves—mainly, it turns out, for serious sex. And while you're waiting for the push to Tripoli and the inevitable violent double-crosses, the story, which had started promisingly with Charlie's unwilling enlistment in the middle of a break-in gone horribly wrong, develops serious longueurs, like a Marine recruitment film. The ending is as bloody as you could want, but not nearly as inventive. As in Gough's police stories, the preliminaries—hapless Charlie's adventures in Cairo, the backgrounds of Sweets and Mungo and the late lamented safecracker—are more interesting than the main event.
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