In Salter’s latest thriller (The eBay Guardian, 2013, etc.), the recurring protagonist is sent to Puerto Rico for a covert assignment that may have global implications.
Maj. Brad Stout is having trouble getting details on his latest Unexplained Radiation Phenomenon mission. He’s too busy trying to protect the congressman who’s supposed to give him the particulars. When Stout finally arrives at the compound, he has a lot on his plate: He’s in charge of a team of scientists assembled to explain and possibly thwart a phenomenon that could be catastrophic to the planet, and terrorists are trying to force their way into the building. Before Stout even learns exactly what his mission is—at which point the scientific element enters the story, over a third of the way in—he saves the congressman and his mistress, Lindsey, from a tiger shark; is attacked by a snake; and lands himself in a gunfight. Without revealing the precise URP that Stout faces, Salter presents scenes of scientists discussing theories and predictions to plan the team’s next step. But the story never lags, continually building intrigue and suspense, and there’s the constant threat of the terrorists, who repeatedly try breaching security and lead Stout to teach the scientists how to handle guns. The novel shows shades of sci-fi, but it’s primarily an action-crammed thriller. Salter avoids lingering on violence and any vulgar language, though his protagonist may be a bit too wholesome this time around; Stout, who’s cut off from his wife, Mary Lou, and their twins, hardly seems tempted by Lindsey, whose obvious come-ons consequently have little dramatic impact. His reaction to Bertram Skitlik, however, is unmistakable, as the mere mention of the peevish scientist’s name causes Stout to grimace and come close to swearing (“egotistical a-hole”). And that’s just one of the many obstacles that readers will enjoy watching Stout overcome.
Coursing action with a sci-fi flavor.