"The author’s gleefully convoluted narrative brims with characters and plot points ...Reagan turns his 500-plus pages into a searing epic."– Kirkus Reviews
In Reagan’s (The Devil’s Handshake, 2014) latest thriller, billionaire oligarch Sir Thomas Litchfield returns, caught in global tension over the control of Central Asia’s natural gas.
Two years after North Korea and South Korea are reunified, a new gas pipeline through the Koreas has other countries at arms. The initial problems for people in places such as the U.S., China and Russia are monetary; the Turkmenistan president, for example, wants Thomas’ TLH Group to give up its commission with the country. But the situation worsens when a woman, secretly part of a family with a vendetta against Thomas, finds herself in a position of power. Her attempt at retribution leads some to accuse Thomas of murdering his business partner and, since it could be construed as a power play, profiteering from the pipeline deal. It escalates from there: A Turkmenistan gas field is attacked, and countries, including Japan, blame one another for trying to gain control of the fields. Reagan’s novel is a labyrinth of subplots: There’s Zhang Nu, a Chinese model/intelligence officer monitoring Thomas; Korean Vice President O Su Lee, who spearheaded the reunification and may have further, possibly devious, plans; and one country’s indisputable attack on another, perhaps threatening another world war. There are also a few impressive action scenes, particularly the multiple assassination attempts on Thomas, whose armed bodyguards get involved in a few gunfights. The uneasiness derived from international distrust makes even mere discussions, such as ones between Thomas and his friend (but still potentially dangerous) Russian President Vladimir Putin, sound like razor-laced discourse. Yet Reagan doesn’t define the story’s villains by their nations; each country has its share of bad guys, as well as those intent on maintaining peace—even a Japanese yakuza turns out to be a man of honor. However, an abundance of grammatical errors distracts from the otherwise entertaining narrative. And like last time, an open ending teases another sequel, though just deserts for one character will have readers taking in the coda with approval.
Nearly as long as the voluminous prequel but more swiftly paced, the second in the Litchfield series is a marked improvement.
Ronald Reagan's adoptive son offers a digressive tract that combines--not always effectively or gracefully--a celebration of his father's presidency, a neoconservative agenda for national renewal, score-settling asides on those he feels have done him wrong, and ad hominem attacks on Bill Clinton that might give the American Spectator pause. Drawing on his father's conceit (borrowed from Pilgrim John Winthrop) of an America that shows the rest of the world just how to create a paradise on earth, the San Diegobased radio talk-show host provides a cluttered blueprint for restoring the putatively lost glories of yesteryear when Reagan päre was cutting taxes, rearming the US military, jump-starting the domestic economy, and otherwise giving the country greater confidence in itself. His four-point program envisions realigning the roles played by mainstays of American society. By way of example, he would cut the federal budget and shrink government while reasserting national sovereignty. In like vein, the author urges that job-creating business be relieved of regulatory and tax burdens. He commends supporting civic and religious institutions that can take up the slack left by welfare reform and castigates government agencies at all levels for their paternalistic intrusions into the American family. At least as interested in tearing down as in building up, Reagan the Younger assails Clinton early and often, characterizing him as a slick (rather than great) communicator and the make-love- not-war president. Nor does the aggrieved author neglect to get even for slights he has suffered at the hands of Republican Party officials, Nancy Reagan (who on occasion has treated him, well, like a stepchild), and others. An odd sociopolitical amalgam, of interest mainly for the personal insights a lightweight son can provide on his world-class father, rather than its anti-Democrat invective or pro forma attempt to revive the Reagan Revolution.