Readers unfamiliar with Lustbader’s (Blood Trust, 2011, etc.) Jack McClure action series might want to keep a pencil handy when diving into this book.
Arlen Crawford is the U.S. president. Alli Carson, the previous president’s daughter fresh from being rescued by McClure, is training at “Fearington, one of the prime secret service training centers.” The deceased president’s older brother, crooked business tycoon Henry Holt Carson, has Crawford knotted up in corruption. And there’s a shadowy general and a black project by the code name of Three-thirteen. McClure himself is bedded down in Moscow with his lover, Annika Batchuk, granddaughter of the grand old criminal Dyadya Gourdjiev. All that is intertwined with the descendants of the Norn, a group of once-Nazis co-opted by World War II’s famed OSS undercover organization. Werner von Verschuer is the current Dr. Evil, being the bastard offspring of Josef Mengele and the daughter of the founder of the Nazi Institute for Hereditary Biology and Racial Hygiene. Add a Middle Eastern criminal mastermind called “the Syrian,” experiments with twins and a “security company” called International Perimeter, and new readers will need a scorecard. The action kicks off with a purple prose prologue in which an assassin attempts to murder McClure and Annika. Next comes the incessant scene-hopping, character-shifting narrative flow that’s a thriller staple. Enough back story develops a quarter into the novel to give readers some insight into the book’s two narratives. The first involves a mysterious cabal of powerful Americans conspiring to take advantage of the Arab Spring uprisings to secure control of the Suez Canal and Middle Eastern oil production. The second involves sneaking Gourdiev out of Russia to escape murder by Grigori Batchuk, the rogue second-wife offspring of his former son-in-law and thus Annika’s half brother. With strobe-flash scenes and action-clichéd dialogue occasionally spiced by keen wordplay, Lustbader powers through with plentiful hand-to-hand martial arts combat described blow by blow.
Fans will appreciate this installment. Lustbader newbies should start with the first in the series.