A rising star in the New York District Attorney’s office suffers her first loss, the high profile prosecution of a defendant accused of a grisly homicide, and spirals into an emotional meltdown that ultimately ensnares her in a dangerous web of drugs, violence and terrorism.
Smith, a trial attorney in Atlanta, Ga., makes good use of his professional experience in this debut novel. The early scenes are packed with engaging cat-and-mouse courtroom drama. A devastating cross-examination of the defendant appears to leave little doubt that prosecutor Sharon Weinstock will win another conviction—that is, until a hung jury results in a mistrial. Weinstock is a compelling character—a young attorney who is tightly wound and keeps her life exceedingly well organized. When she unravels, it is in spectacular form, beginning with an uncharacteristic flight to Aruba and a night of drunken abandon. After an improbable tryst with the very defendant she had been trying to convict, Weinstock finds herself involved with a series of psychopathic charmers who test the limits of her courage and previously untapped skills in a deadly contest set against the backdrop of the second Gulf War. The writing is occasionally uneven (and grammarians may cringe at the haphazard switching of tenses throughout the novel), but Smith keeps the tension steady, providing surprising alliances and backstabbers. A satisfying love interest offers moments of respite from the violence that emerges behind every corner. The nature of “Operation Hydra” itself does not emerge until the final chapters. Were it not for the title and the dust jacket details, readers might not immediately suspect the scope of the larger conspiracy. The major premise of the book becomes less important than the adventure itself. And readers who grow to enjoy Weinstock’s sharp mind and indefatigable determination will be pleased that Smith has set the stage for the possible reappearance of his heroine in a sequel.
An entertaining page-turner for devotees of international thrillers.