Nostradamus revisited, with results too often predictable.
At a fundraiser at the University of Pittsburgh, Jonathon Payne spots a young woman on the outskirts of the crowd and knows instantly there’s something off-key about her. He can react with such speed because he wasn’t always CEO of Payne Industries, the multinational corporation launched by his grandfather. Once, he was a highly trained fighting man, leader of an elite special forces unit: the MANIACs, drawn from the Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force, Intelligence and Coast Guard. (Only “the best of the best” need apply.) Close friend and kindred spirit David Jones shares Payne’s unrest. A fellow ex-MANIAC, Jones is likewise maxi-intuitive and, it turns out, the attractive young interloper is in fact a thief. Turns out, also, that her latest hot item is a purloined letter, which she recognizes as valuable while not knowing quite how to convert it to cash. She hopes Payne and Jones can be conned out of useful ideas. The very old letter originated with that world-class prognosticator Nostradamus. Is it enriched by a signature prophecy? Hard to tell at first, since it’s written in a variety of languages, some of them dead--a condition Payne and Jones only narrowly avoid in the ensuing struggle to keep acquisitive bad guys at bay.
Seduced by the glamour of his own research, Kuzneski (The Lost Throne, 2009, etc.) succumbs to an ailment unfailingly fatal to narrative drive—acute digressivitis.