In this military thriller, second in a series, a covert operative works a tricky, dangerous deception in North Korea with his girlfriend’s help.
Mackenzie Daniels, called Mac, is a skilled man to have on your side. Trained as a Navy SEAL, he belongs to the CIA’s Special Operations Group, “generally considered the most secretive special operations force in the United States.” He’s also tall, tanned, and “movie star handsome,” with an equally beautiful girlfriend, Astrid Reed, CEO and owner of the World News Corporation and one of the world’s richest women. Mac foils a deal between North Korea and Cuba to purchase enriched uranium with the help of Middle Eastern money—and then steals the uranium. At the same time, an unearthed cache of the nerve gas sarin gets loaded on an ISIS ship bound for North Korea. Mac must board that ship, destroy the gas, and gain access to Kim Jong Un. He’ll have a difficult task convincing Kim that the United States isn’t responsible for the missing uranium; getting out of the country will be even harder. Luckily, there’s a plan B: Astrid. Kim can’t pass up an interview with the World News Corporation and its global reach. Boffa (The Deed, 2007) offers almost nonstop action as his spies and counterspies spin secrets, lies, and cunning plans while employing an impressive array of gadgets, weapons, and hardware. While well-researched, the details can get overly specific (“The United States Marine Corps first adopted the Ka-Bar in November 1942”), and exposition unfolds clumsily. Boffa also relies for one plot point on a truly groan-worthy cliché, the Japanese soldier who doesn’t know the war is over. But Boffa’s spycraft is fun, like the dental floss that conceals a fine steel wire suitable for “garrote, saw, or restraint.” Characters, including minor ones, are well-developed, and Mac and Astrid get scenes of erotic and emotional intimacy, providing balance to the story.
A few awkward moments, but this fast-paced thriller has lots to recommend it.