A naval officer, after apprising NCIS of a possible bribe, ultimately finds herself in terrorists’ cross hairs in this second installment of an epic thriller series.
Barbara O’Leary will someday be a “controversial figure of international significance.” That’s according to intercepts allegedly from the future and containing portions of James Callahan’s late 21st-century biography of Barbara. This sequel covers a seventh-month period, prior to Barbara’s fame, as a lieutenant studying at the Advanced Naval Communication School (the year unspecified). She is fresh from an undercover operation during which she was forced to kill a terrorist, an act that has plagued her with nightmares. Her body is also undergoing changes, courtesy of the company BetterYou, whose hormone treatment gives her a noticeably curvier physique. Sporting her new figure in Las Vegas, Barbara meets and befriends Kirsten, an intimate companion, akin to a prostitute. One of Kirsten’s clients is repulsive Simon, who, Barbara later learns, may be bribing his way to winning his company’s bid for an ANCS software upgrade. She informs NCIS, which enlists her for another undercover gig: finding the ANCS-linked individual susceptible to Simon’s corruption. Complicating matters is Barbara’s terrorist half brother, Ahmed, tracking her, likely seeking revenge for the man she killed. While Purssell’s (The O’Leary Enigma, 2011) earlier novel delved into Barbara’s history, the latest aptly centers on self-discovery. It takes time for the protagonist to garner confidence, as she’s a virgin unaccustomed to the attention her new body receives. The story is unfortunately marred by excessive lingering on physical traits, particularly Barbara’s large breasts, and a slow first half devoted to her sexuality. But a steady pace eventually sets in: baddies’ correspondence details an unwavering search for Barbara, and a betrayal could leave the lieutenant and FBI pal Jocelyn stranded in Guatemala. Though Purssell has barely scratched the surface (decades remain before reaching Callahan’s 2081 biography), this entry provides both a resolution and open-ended subplots for future volumes.
A tale with a sluggish start that eventually delivers action and suspense, led by a steadfast and unusual protagonist.