A quiet little murder drags a JAG lawyer into a dirty war.
In a shabby Washington, D.C., apartment, newly promoted Lieutenant Colonel Sean Drummond (The President’s Assassin, 2005, etc.) stares down at the naked, dead body of one Clifton Daniels. He has questions. Not so much about the gun-shot corpse (those will come later), but about why he, Drummond, should be bearing witness. Instructed to serve temporarily with the CIA, he’s been dispatched to the apartment by Phyllis Carney, his enigmatic boss, with typically cryptic instructions—amounting, in effect, to no instructions at all. The presence of the attractive Major Bian Tran, military police, provides a degree of balm, but Drummond can’t shake the feeling that his strings are being pulled and that whoever’s pulling them doesn’t have his best interests at heart. Well, he’s right about that. It turns out that the defunct Mr. Daniels had a dark side, and that powerful people at home and abroad might not exactly regret his silencing. It’s all very mysterious and unsettling, and when Drummond, suddenly partnered with Bian, finds himself on a plane headed for Iraq, it’s with a continued sense of being manipulated. The actual mission, though, at least on the face of it, seems straightforward: Kidnap a certain al-Qaeda moneyman, and wring from him—the hard way, if necessary—the vital information in his possession. Straightforward, yes, but daunting, even for the redoubtable Drummond, a man who spent five years in Special Ops before becoming a lawyer. Bullets whiz by, bodies fall, and then, at mission’s end, more questions—about his sphinx-like boss, about the mercurial Bian and, most difficult of all for Drummond, those really sticky ones concerning moral relativity.
Unnecessary chattiness adds about a hundred pages that this pretty good novel didn’t need.