Thriller veteran Thomas (Playing with Cobras, 1993, etc.) returns, this time with a Gorky Park wannabe that forgot a basic...



Thriller veteran Thomas (Playing with Cobras, 1993, etc.) returns, this time with a Gorky Park wannabe that forgot a basic tenet of the genre: provide numerous twists and turns, yes, but keep it relatively simple. Vorontsyev, chief of detectives in a Siberian gas-field town, is called to investigate the murder of an American businessman. The Russian's sometime nemesis is a GRU colonel who, citing reasons of state security, soon takes over the case -- much to Vorontsyev's relief. He's busy enough trying to uphold the laws and stay honest while living and working in a boomtown severely corrupted by foreign investment and influences. But a drug-smuggling racket that Vorontsyev is trying to crack keeps leading him back to the dead American. He later uncovers disturbing connections between the murder and Iranian Intelligence, missing Russian nuclear scientists, local gangsters, and an American gas company. All of which Thomas handles with some skill, especially his depiction of a Russian struggling with capitalism's uglier side. Enter ex-CIA agent John Lock to muck things up. His and Vorontsyev's stories are interspersed for the first two-thirds of the book, and the novel becomes sluggish whenever Lock appears. In the US, Lock's sister and her husband are murdered, and Lock accumulates the expected body count searching for their killers. Along the way, he also discovers that his dead brother-in-law's gas company (operating in Vorontsyev's town) is linked to heroin running, bad guys left over from the Vietnam War, mujahadeen rebels, the KGB, and -- why not? -- the CIA. Once in Russia (to kill the man who ordered his sister's death), Lock joins up with Vorontsyev, and together they stumble to an improbable ending. Throughout, the action slows when Lock's on the job, and scenes sputter and balk before rolling into the ditch. Riveting while the focus is on Vorontsyev, but a real trudge whenever Lock turns up. This Yankee should have stayed home -- if not out of the novel altogether.

Pub Date: May 1, 1995


Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995