An international cat-and-mouse game among high-level arms smugglers, in a second thriller from Sutherland (Diplomatic Immunity, 2001).
At West Point, more years ago than he’d care to admit, Ned Rourke learned that a good officer’s raison d’etre was fidelity to Duty, Honor, and Country. In the real world, however, things have proven more complicated. After seeing combat in the Persian Gulf and Somalia with the US Rangers, Ned was persuaded by his wife Fiona to take a stateside posting that would keep him out of harm’s way. So he returned to West Point as an instructor. But the army without combat had about as much glamour as the civil service—and less money. So Ned left the service and became a sales rep for Haplon Systems, a military equipment firm in Connecticut catering primarily to private investors (i.e., mercenaries). In this strange new world, Ned made the rounds of the trade shows, peddling serious firepower to weekend warriors, soldiers-of-fortune, and third-world warlords—anyone, in short, with a serviceable passport and a Swiss bank account. But everything changed when rival salesman Dmitri Spandos (Ned’s old West Point roommate) was found shot to death behind the firing range at a trade show where Ned had just landed a huge contract. Although it was believed at first that a stray shot had killed Dmitri, Ned knew better. Dmitri was part of a covert Pentagon operation that monitored the illegal export of US arms to foreign powers and terrorist cells—exactly what Ned was doing. In his zeal to avenge Dmitri’s death, Ned now has a personal motive for smoking out the smugglers, and so he goes back on the line of fire, against Fiona’s wishes. But what else can he do? Duty, for a West Point man, goes beyond duty to your wife and kids.
Somewhat slow-paced, but an interesting and complex tale informed with an oddly macho ethos: a little bit like putting Rambo into a le Carré novel.