An attorney moonlighting as a covert agent helps a U.S. black-ops group target a powerful but diabolical organization bent on world domination in Mahler’s (Smoking Kills, 2010) thriller.
As far as Betty Thursten’s family knows, she’s an immigration lawyer in Washington, D.C. But her travels to out-of-state education conferences are typically covers for Betty to carry out assignments for clandestine agency Control. She was recruited by Tom Howell, her ex-boyfriend, who removed himself from her life for years before inexplicably returning. Betty struggles with her conflicted feelings for Tom as well as her physical attraction to fellow agent Gil Richardson. Meanwhile, there seems to be a mole intent on sabotaging Control missions as it sets its sights on the World Order Cabal, an organization that’s been around for centuries. Readers hoping for cover-to-cover espionage action, though, may be a little disappointed. Betty is unquestionably a stellar agent—a black belt in jujitsu who’s equally adept with a sniper’s rifle—but the story spends a great deal of time on events prior to her recruitment, including her relationship with Tom before he’s injured on assignment in Iraq. Mahler’s nonlinear story bounces from the present day to various flashbacks, but these energetic time jumps remain comprehensible throughout. The author also maintains a consistent level of mystery: readers eventually learn, for example, why a woman named Jil Harper is Betty’s former best friend as well as details behind the brutal murder of José Silva, Betty’s post-Tom fiance. Mahler too often lingers on Betty’s attempts to resist Gil’s physical allure—it’s perfectly clear that the two have enticing, “sculpted” bodies. But he also shows how Betty proves to be a formidable agent as she goes after significant players in the World Order Cabal. Along the way, he drops in a few good background elements, including the origins of both major spy organizations. At the same time, the story leaves some unanswered questions, such as the mole’s identity, which Mahler may be saving for a sequel.
An often engaging tale of a woman who’s just as comfortable with melodrama as she is with harrowing espionage.