The specter of terrorism adds a twist to an otherwise standard blackmail plot.
Lindsey (Animosity, 2001, etc.) starts with an unsettling premise: Could terrorists invade your home, threaten to destroy your career, and take the lives of loved ones? True, Titus Cain isn’t your average Main Street Joe (Tom Hanks doesn’t get the part). The developer of a private software company worth $265 million, Cain is tough but likable (Harrison Ford gets the part). Sipping a beer on his Austin estate, Cain is confronted at gunpoint by a man named Alvaro and his henchmen. Alvaro demands Cain invest $64 million in company assets into foreign enterprises Alvaro will designate. If Cain fails to comply and/or goes to the FBI, Alvaro will murder people close to Cain. To show they mean business, the blackmailers slaughter Cain’s two dogs. Of course, Cain’s wife Rita is out of the country, making her a likely target (and not much more than that, as sketched by Lindsey). “Where there’s a gamble, there’s also a chance,” Titus reasons, so he makes a call by payphone to a contact at the CIA. The latter senses that the money demand is part of a larger plot—Cain’s funds may back terrorists. The CIA op turns Cain over to an independent agent for the intelligence community, Garcia Burden, who takes charge with a strong hand. Little stands in his way (and little builds tension) except the murders of one of Cain’s workers and of a friend. But when Burden cinches the ring around the virulent leader of the plot, Tano Luquin, a fascinating, suspenseful “techno-chase” ensues: SUV’s, laptops, and tiny, adhesive mikes that resemble liver spots become the arms of post-9/11 warfare.
Thin characterization and serviceable prose, but the nimbly executed set piece at the close is worth the wait.