Morrell (best known for First Blood, 1972) returns to his favorite revenge theme in this latest thriller, which focuses on a hit man who renounces violence, only to be flushed out of his monastic retreat, back to the counterterrorist circuit. Drew MacLane is the quintessential loner, his destiny sealed at age nine in Tokyo, where he sees his beloved diplomat father blown away by a hand-delivered bomb. Sensing the youngster's need for vengeance, his uncle Ray, himself an agent, steers him toward Scalpel, a US counterterrorist outfit, for which Drew performs loyally until the traumatic moment when he perceives his latest victims to be facsimiles of his parents and himself. Instead of executing his next hit (against the then-exiled Ayatollah, in Paris), he returns stateside and enters an order of Carthusian brothers in Vermont. Six years later, a mass poisoning wipes out the entire order, but Drew escapes, thanks to his pet mouse, and also to his old combat skills (he rams a crucifix up an adversary's nostril). With the aid of his old flame Arlene, and a Polish priest who belongs to an organization that kills for the Mother Church, Drew moves slowly to a showdown with--Uncle Ray! Drew's childhood protector is now his archenemy, his still-simmering scheme to overthrow the Ayatollah threatened by Drew's survival. Drew, ultimately victorious, retreats into exile in Egypt. This is all very slow going. While Morrell periodically splatters his landscape with gore, he chokes his narrative with awkward flashbacks, fails to mesh his rival conspiracies (four top secret networks feel like three too many), and he can't whip up an interest in Drew's supposed inner conflict: we know this guy will pick his Mauser over his monk's habit every time.