THE OPERATIVE by Andrew Britton


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Ex-CIA agent Ryan Kealey (The American, 2006, etc.) returns to save the world again, this time from a bunch of terrorists armed with two nuclear weapons.

Britton warns you early and often that this isn’t geopolitics as usual. The CIA agents who assume responsibility for wanted terrorist Yasmin Rassin, aka the Veil, in a swap with the Canadian authorities who detained her, don’t fly her to Islamabad, as they told the Canadians they’d be doing, but instead spirit her off to a secret lair where hypnotherapist Dr. Ayesha Gillani can plant subtle mental suggestions in her. That unexpected detour is only a prelude to a series of bombs that explode in the Baltimore Convention Center, killing dozens and interrupting a nursing conference co-hosted by Julie Harper, whose husband, Jon, is deputy director of the CIA. As Julie lies in a coma, duly constituted representatives of diverse government agencies jockey for position. Antiquities heir Jacob Trask emerges from his usual seclusion long enough to stir the pot vigorously; the FBI’s Reed Bishop duels the CIA; the FBI’s assistant director and the assistant director of its New York office differ with unusual warmth about an off-the-books project; and President David Brenneman himself reactivates Kealey, who’s already shown his mettle in joining Julie’s old student, CIA psychotherapist Allison Dearborn, to free hostages that the Baltimore bombers took. By the time a pair of suspicious crates arrive at a New York office building, you won’t trust a soul. For beneath the high body count and the equally high acronym count designed to remind you how much research the author’s done is a wonderfully subversive notion: Nuclear terrorism is the logical extension of agency infighting.

Don’t worry about the American democratic system. As Bishop sneers to the archvillain at bay, “it always self-corrects. It was designed to do that.”

Pub Date: July 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7582-6351-3
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Kensington
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2012


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