SLEEPER by Gene Riehl


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Never mind WMD, it’s those baby spies that make North Korea really scary.

Consider Sung Kim, for example. She, like all ten of “the adopted children”—as North Korea euphemistically puts it—began her life as an American. Samantha Williamson she was called before being kidnapped for clandestine purposes, specifically as a future star in North Korea's dark and devious Division 39 Program. Brain-washed until the Yank in her is totally wiped out, trained within an inch of her life in languages and martial arts, as well as in the nether side of spy-craft: lying, cheating, tactical whoring—this aspect of her education in the hands of a distinguished array of top-level American criminals—she is then turned loose to commit unspeakable acts on behalf of her adopted country. So there’s the redoubtable Sung Kim on assignment in the US, sent by her boss Cho Hyun to wreak terroristic havoc. And there’s NSA Director Philip Carter, suddenly aware of the viper in the American midst after a painting worth $15 million is lifted: Sung Kim's sneaky signature style writ large. Enter Special Agent Puller Monk, making his second series appearance (after Quantico Rules, 2003), tapped by the director to tangle with North Korea's enfant terrible. Not that Monk is everybody's idea of a white-haired spy boy—far from it. Hopelessly addicted to gambling, a thorn in the side of entrenched bureaucracy, Monk and his ascension give rise to a legitimate question from a Carter colleague. With 15,000 agents to choose from, why him? It’s a question echoed by Monk himself. “Because,” says Carter, ever and unabashedly pragmatic, “you're a winner.” But then so is Sung Kim, who’s been sent by her masters to take aim at he who walks tallest in the US corridors of power. Okay, winner against winner, winner take all.

Thin characters, so-so plot. After a promising debut, the sophomore jinx.

Pub Date: March 4th, 2005
ISBN: 0-312-31053-6
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2005


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