A lascivious senator meets an untoward end. The president’s bewildered daughter is involved—and so is tough but sensitive ATF agent Jack McClure, the hero of the piece.
Readers met McClure (and said bewildered one) in First Daughter (2009). Van Lustbader (The Testament, 2006, etc.), carefully fueling the franchise, drops us smack down where the thrills and spills left off. McClure, dyslexic but a close reader of human nature all the same, is now in President Edward Carson’s inner circle, charged, among other things, with keeping young missy out of danger. Fat chance, for the bad guys have designs on her, on the president, on all that is good and noble about the American way of life. Of course, there’s bunches of politicos on Capitol Hill who have no idea of what those ideals might mean, and they’ve been shacking up with the apparatchiks and new rich and uranium hustlers across the waters in Putin’s Russia, aka the Evil Empire. McClure knows that the game’s afoot, and that he’s pretty much on his own (“He had always been an outsider—from his dyslexia to his unorthodox upbringing he’s never fit in, and, as he’d finally been able to admit to himself if not to anyone else...he didn’t want to.”) Enter sweet, sassy and ever so lethal Annika, “a member of an undercover unit of the Russian Federal Police...you could call her a spy without fear of contradiction,” who has Electra complex issues of her own, and the fun really gets going. The necklines are low and the body count is high, fulfilling formula obligations; but Van Lustbader is an old hand at this spy-vs.-spy stuff, having resurrected Jason Bourne in the wake of Robert Ludlum’s departure from the planet, and he throws in enough twists and turns (and karate chops and slippery Crimean byways) to keep things original and interesting.
Will the forces of good prevail? Stay tuned—but bet your bippy that there will be a sequel.