The CIA and the KGB in harness together and against the world, in this latest by one of the genre's canniest spymeisters.
A German consortium tucked away somewhere in Africa offers a super-satellite for sale to any country rich enough to afford it. The spy rocket's capacity for information retrieval is unparalleled. Anything Libya, for instance, might want to know about Israel's armies—divisional strength, location, state of readiness, etc.—becomes almost instantly available. Both the Americans and the Russians consider this an untenable situation—to say nothing of the teeth-gnashing it causes among the Israelis. True, the satellite is not quite ready for prime time. German scientists, fiddling with finishing touches, are getting perilously close, however, perhaps only weeks away. At the instigation of the Russians, the heads of two traditionally inimical intelligence agencies meet clandestinely, eyeing each other warily, tipping toes in the cold war water, and finally agreeing on a three-pronged plan aimed at sabotaging the monster (2,500-pound ) rocket while still in its silo. At length, Dmitri Petrov and James Patterson find themselves with more in common—in terms of style, at least—than with certain “allies” in their respective homelands. In addition, both are beset by personal problems of a painful and distracting nature. But chillingly, one after another, all three prongs of the plan are bent out of shape, and the dreaded launch takes place as scheduled: a rousing success for greed and political instability. And then suddenly, astonishingly (to both the Russians and the Americans), it isn't.
Freemantle puts his long-standing Charley Muffin series (Mind Reader, 1999, etc.) on hold for a deft, consistently absorbing global thriller, proving once again that, le Carré aside, no one does this sort of thing better.