Eisler (Fault Line, 2009, etc.) centers his latest thriller on iffy protagonist Ben Treven, a ruthless assassin with an angst-ridden past and a tendency to relentlessly overexplain the tools of his trade as he targets another killer.
The action begins with Treven senselessly beating an Australian to death in a bar fight that lands him in a Manila jail. Treven doesn’t take well to imprisonment—the food makes him throw up, the heat is stultifying and he has to sleep on the concrete. Good thing his old nemesis/boss/friend/enemy Hort finds him and gets him out. But, of course, Hort doesn’t do it because he’s a buddy—he wants Treven to help him find some missing tapes. The tapes, which document the CIA torturing terrorist suspects, are being held for ransom by a man named Larison. Larison, who is as proficient and deadly a killer as Treven, grabbed the tapes and threatens to upload them on the Internet unless the government gives him millions in diamonds—something those in the know want to avoid. While Larison plots to stay ahead of his pursuers while sharing time with the Costa Rican man for whom he left his wife and son, Treven teams up with Paula, a sexy FBI agent, to track Larison to his tropical hideout. Treven and Paula share some sexual tension, lots of adversarial banter and barely avoid being killed in the bloodbaths that seem to surround any business Larison conducts. The pursuit gives Treven a chance to show off his skills as a killer, and it allows him to out-macho everyone with whom he comes into contact, except Larison. As it turns out, both men have problems with torture, even though they show a willingness to butcher anyone who gets in their way.
This testosterone-soaked tale features unlikable, cardboard characters and a plot that disappears under the weight of implausibility.