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Dreary, derivative debut thriller.

It’s the near future, and vigilantism runs amok. A coordinated wave of assassinations, launched by the Colombian drug cartel, has dealt a blow to American law enforcement. Across the country thousands of judges, DEA cops and FBI agents have been gunned down, along with hundreds of unlucky bystanders caught in crossfires: “the slaughter of the innocents,” the press has termed it. In the immediate aftermath, the new Martial Law Act has given rise to the Bureau of Illegal Substance Control aimed at coping with what POTUS describes as a state of national emergency. Headed by a three-member Tribunal, BISC is to have star-chamber powers: that is, the power to act as judge and jury and to snuff out those it convicts. Absolute power goes the way of all predictions, and, accordingly, BISC turns rotten. Enter Leah Berglund, franchise hit person. Tall, blonde, leggy, a kind of Barbie Rambo, Leah has been sent to execute Elliott Delgado, ex-FBI super-agent and current Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter for U.S. News-Time, because he's been dissing BISC, hurting it in its amour propre. Killer she may be, but Leah has her sensitive side, and she falls for Elliott, which of course complicates the business of taking him out. Naturally, Elliott—Ken to her Barbie—reciprocates, and they hook up to redress a series of wrongs perpetrated by the rogue triumvirate. “I suppose I always had a kernel of doubt,” says Leah, ruefully, in contemplation of her gory past. Elliott reassures her, and they table further consideration of moral imperatives in order to block the latest BISC iniquity: the planned assassination of POTUS himself. So it's the good vigilantes vs. the bad with the fate of the nation (yet again) hanging in the balance.

Gingerbread characters, cookie-cutter plotting.

Pub Date: April 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-765-31149-6
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Forge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2005