Well-known antiquities dealer Brian Sadler returns to help ensnare a man who may be involved in the crashes of Air Force One and Air Force Two in Thompson’s (Ghost Train: The Lost Gold of the Nazis, 2016, etc.) latest novel.
Air Force Two, with the vice president aboard, has dropped from radar. Then President Harry Harrison and others also go missing when Air Force One vanishes. The nation’s at DEFCON 1, and Speaker of the House Chambliss Parkes becomes the new acting president. After wreckage from Air Force One is found, Parkes declares the passengers from both aircraft dead from a presumed terrorist strike. The late president’s father, a former senator, asks TV personality and antiquities dealer Sadler, who knew the president well, to help find out what happened to the planes. Sadler soon agrees to perform a simple task for the CIA in London, where he meets up with Amina “Amy” Hassan, who’s on a CIA watch list along with her billionaire father, Amin. The situation is dire back in America, as Parkes barely acknowledges the Falcons of Islam, who claimed responsibility for the attack and say that they have sleeper agents in the United States. But the CIA fears that Sadler and his attorney fiancee, Nicole Farber, may be in more imminent danger, as Amin sent a killer to follow Sadler back to Dallas. Despite an early reveal of a significant player in the planes’ disappearances, the narrative retains a good deal of mystery, particularly regarding the top-secret Operation Condor. Thompson turns the spotlight on various characters, including people who are knowingly aiding the bad guys and at least one person who’s been tricked into doing so. Series regular Sadler, however, gets overshadowed in his own story, as he appears only sporadically; he’s essentially used by the CIA for his expertise and popularity, and later, as bait. Also, the book’s descriptions can be repetitive; Amy, for example, is often said to be “stunning.” However, the baddies’ plan, as well as the good guys’ strategy to fight back, are riveting, featuring varying motives and inevitable double crosses.
A thriller with a delightfully dense plot, although its protagonist has little opportunity to shine.