THE FOURTH RULE by Douglass Seaver


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In Seaver’s thriller, the CIA seems to have a targeted a man whose brother, missing for decades, may have stashed incriminating evidence.

Desalination plant engineer Matthew Grant is anxious when two men from Backchannel Security, at the CIA’s behest, show up at his door asking about his brother Mark. Matthew tells them that he hasn’t seen Mark since his return from Vietnam in 1961—22 years ago. The engineer goes on the offensive and teams up with TV foreign correspondent Robin Baxter to expose the CIA’s reputed illicit drug activity in Afghanistan. When Matthew evades the men following him, the baddies assume that he’s hiding Mark’s whereabouts and go after the one person Matthew’s trying his best to protect—his 16-year-old daughter, Caroline. In his debut novel, Seaver dabbles in spies, rogue agents, and international affairs and continually maintains suspense. Readers know more than the characters, but even when the narrative reveals Mark’s post-Nam fate, there’s much more that will gradually unfold—all the way until the very last doozy of a sentence. Regardless, intended surprises don’t always succeed; readers will likely catch up with the story faster than the author intended, and some will also guess the plot twists. Matthew may not be a spy, but his job affords him Middle Eastern contacts who, along with his FBI pal, help him gather intel on the people after him and his brother. Seaver provides a good amount of insight into Mark via his Vietnam letters to Matthew. On the spy front, there are a few shootouts, including one in a McDonald’s parking lot; an abduction; and more. There’s also a love triangle that’s teased early on but unfortunately never comes to fruition.

A predictable, entertaining story stuffed with espionage morsels.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2014
ISBN: 978-1610091565
Page count: 302pp
Publisher: Dark Oak Mysteries
Program: Kirkus Indie
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