In another of Cork's (Knight Moves, 2005) Jenny O'Shane tales, the Army brass taps her to dismantle a human trafficking operation.
An attractive, petite redhead, U.S. Army Maj. Jenny O'Shane of the military police is intelligent and calm under pressure. Yet she often gets the brush-off from males in authority. She's assigned to work festivities for Crown Prince Fahd of Saudi Arabia, but Prince Kaliq, the Saudi minister of security, deems Jenny's presence unnecessary. His attitude changes when she saves Fahd from an assassination attempt. The grateful prince presents her with a special dagger, which she must keep with her at all times. Meanwhile, in Argentina, a man nicknamed El Toro masterminds the worldwide collection of children for sale to the highest bidder, the proceeds funding terrorism. By chance, El Toro's new wife, Vanessa, is a close friend of first lady Betty Fisher. To bring down his operation, Jenny will fight, parachute and swim into harm's way, with the president's seal of approval. Resourceful Jenny is a strong, if not memorable, central character, even as she courts trouble and must explain her activities to her superiors (thus, the title). She negotiates her way to the forefront of the action, of which there's plenty, including scenes in which she gets use out of that dagger. She is vetted and capable, refusing to let men take all the plum assignments and the credit, making it easy to root for her. The story is layered with events in Jenny's career and personal life as well as numerous individuals in the trafficking operation, including victims. Mostly, this tale feels authentic, though it seems unlikely the first lady would participate in a covert operation or fly on a Saudi aircraft. Readers may bristle as Jenny uses extreme measures against a captive and then considers a fabricated justification for her actions. At book's end, Jenny doesn't linger with the reader, perhaps because the mayhem she encounters doesn't linger with her. Instead, it's back to hanging with friends, stroking her cat and flirting with her fiance.
Solid military action, decent plotting and an appealing heroine, despite a few questionable scenes.
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