In the second book to feature Aeron Callahan, a CIA “Ghost” operative tries to intercept terrorists planning a U.S. attack while eluding Irish hit men (The Ghost Effect, 2010).
Samantha Clarke, a member of the CIA’s covert Ghost Section, is in Ireland researching an assassination plot. She discovers that fellow Ghost (and boyfriend) Callahan is the target, and she finds a file that includes Callahan’s name and photo. The Armagh Syndicate, made up of three former IRA members, has Callahan in its sights; elsewhere, Mohammad Saif al-Din’s terrorist faction prepares for a strike against America. The novel moves at an impressive pace, reinforced by laconic dialogue and succinct chapters. Despite the presence of various international organizations, the bulk of the action takes place in the U.S., with the Syndicate even following Callahan to the States. Intrigue starts in the beginning: The American who hires the assassins to kill Callahan is only one of a group comprised of prominent government personnel, including an NSA analyst who fears he might have been duped into aiding Callahan’s demise. Callahan frequently evades death—the Irish tend to farm out the hit to other groups—but his circumstances remain dire, especially since a shrink suggests that he has a psychological condition related to his persistent migraines, which may prove fatal. Callahan and Clarke’s relationship brings together two people whose trade generally results in seclusion; although it often consists of Clarke bemoaning the fact that Callahan refuses to retire from his potentially hazardous duties, their connection is brimming with drama. It’s almost a relief when villainous Russians interrupt their conversation. In the resulting stellar action scene, both Ghosts show that they’re much better at combat than they are at romance. Readers exasperated by Clarke will, however, appreciate the end, when she more than redeems herself. The Irish assassins steal their scenes with comical, constant bickering, while the fact that they’re men of lethal means is never in doubt.
Explosive; readers will be searching for the prequel.