Yuletide in Santa Fe, a good spy beset, and what’s this about a very special baby?
The charismatic religious leader has promised that, if accepted wholeheartedly as the miracle he is, his just-born could be the harbinger of world peace. While a glorious prospect to most, this is of course viewed with alarm in certain quarters. A depressed market and widespread joblessness loom for mercenaries and similar savage folk. Prominent in this unlovely subset is the Russian Mafia, hired by terrorists for $3 million (paid in advance) to kidnap the world-peace baby. This mission stays on track for a while, and then suddenly it’s derailed. Tossing the monkey wrench is Paul Hagen, known to Mafia men as their admirably unprincipled and vicious colleague, “Pyotyr.” Paul/Pyotyr is in actuality a double agent planted by American intelligence. He’s so good that he has fooled even the highly placed Andrei, who’s inordinately fond of Pyotyr the terrible. So the chase begins. Having kidnapped the peace baby from the kidnappers, Paul is on the run. Wounded and desperate, he stumbles on the Brody household and seeks shelter there, little knowing that Meredith and her son Cole are in desperate straits. Meredith is a battered wife, 12-year-old Cole a helpless, frustrated bystander, Ted Brody the alcoholic brute of a husband and father they plan to escape. Enter Paul and the baby, hotly pursued by Andrei and his coterie. For all concerned, it’s a whole new way to experience the Christmas season.
Thrillermeister Morrell (Scavenger, 2007, etc.) offers an item slender enough to fit neatly in a Christmas stocking, but the story’s on the thin side too.