CIA agent Jake Keller’s drone nearly starts World War III, and he puts his life on the line to prevent it in this nonstop thriller.
Let’s get this out of the way first: Zac Miller, the hero of Ricciardi's Warning Light (2018), has changed his name to Jake Keller, but he’s still a badass. With colleague Curt Roach, they launch a drone called Drifter-72 against an al-Qaida terrorist in Saudi Arabia. But it escapes their control, flies to Mecca, and obliterates 3,000 Muslims on the last day of the Hajj at “the holiest site in all of Islam.” Suddenly, the whole world hates the United States. Keller convinces his bosses that the drone had been hijacked, but by whom? Apparently, by someone who wants to drive a permanent wedge between America and Muslims. The backlash is ferocious, with many small groups of terrorists infiltrating the U.S., shooting up civilians and blowing up fuel storage facilities. Bad guys hire an old freighter bound for Texas and load a container holding a nuke. Saudi Arabia’s king professes faith in America’s innocence, but that may get him killed. America’s strong suspicion for the Hajj attack turns to China, the only other country with the technical ability to reprogram someone else’s drone in flight. That could well mean a full-blown conflict between two big, angry countries with nukes. If the U.S. believes China “attacked another nation in their name, then there will be war,” states China’s President Chéng. Obviously, Keller and company had better sort this out PDQ. This yarn has a Category 5 hurricane in the Caribbean, a nasty sandstorm and a pitched battle in a Roman coliseum in Libya, and of course the proverbial ticking clock. Plenty of bodies fall from high-velocity lead poisoning, and the tension in this well-plotted thriller continues right to the end.
Fun fare by a talented storyteller. Let's just hope Ricciardi's hero doesn't change his name again.