CUT-OUT by Bob Mayer


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 This latest installment in the Dave Riley military thriller series (Dragon SIM-13, 1992, etc.) is an adrenaline cocktail from start to finish. Having sent Sgt. Riley into past combat against the Red Chinese army, Colombian drug lords, and genetically engineered urban mutants, Mayer this time tests the lethal talents of his hero against more mundane, but equally deadly, domestic bad guys. The Mob and a cabal of unscrupulous officials in the federal witness protection program have pooled their interests to suck money out of the government by eliminating relocated former witnesses while keeping their files active, thus creating a means of siphoning off the substantial funds that would have gone toward witness support. Jailed mobsters won't argue with the results--dead turncoats--nor will sleazy politicos who get to fleece their pockets with the bloody lucre. In less than 50 pages, Philip Cobb, a Mafia money launderer, goes from gangster lackey to witness for the prosecution to worm food, snuffed by a coolly efficient paramilitary team under the command of a grim figure called Master. But Lisa Cobb, Philip's long-suffering wife, escapes her bullet through the brain and winds up under Riley's protection. Taking his cues from Chicago cop (and potential girlfriend) Donna Giannini, who's savvy to Cobb's predicament, Riley hustles the wife off to the North Carolina wilderness for a rendezvous, enlisting the aid of good buddy and fellow Green Beret Sgt. Frank ``Hammer'' Davis along the way. Giannini soon joins them, but so do Master and his squad of mercenaries. The ensuing cat-and-mouse gambit, which features mercurially shifting loyalties, land mines, grenade launchers, and a shocking 11th-hour alliance, never skips a beat; beyond that, it's guns galore, a chance for Mayer to show off. Though Riley and Giannini's love story lacks conviction, her character is a well-formed rarity for the genre. Sinewy writing only enhances this already potent action fix.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-89141-508-4
Page count: 312pp
Publisher: Presidio/Random
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1994


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