In Mahler’s (Money, 2011, etc.) latest thriller, secret agent Betty Thursten ends up in the cross hairs of her black-ops employer, who thinks that she’s gone rogue.
Betty works for Control, which is targeting a global empire called the World Order Cabal—a group that’s most likely behind her fiance José’s murder. Her latest mission leaves her injured and her partner, Gil, captured. As Betty spends her ensuing downtime at her apartment, things take an unexpected turn. After she glimpses a friend’s private message, she begins to question not only her own parentage, but her part in Control. Meanwhile, her former lover and current boss, Tom Howell, has his own doubts about the agency founded by his father, which isn’t above committing atrocious deeds to keep its secrets. His affection for Betty clashes with his father’s demand that she be added to a termination list. This densely plotted novel picks up right where the previous one left off, with Betty and Gil in midassignment. Readers need not have read the previous book, although it does enhance the story. An operative named Babs, for example, has a minor but significant role here, but the details of her curious association with Tom were revealed in the preceding novel. There’s a lot more action this time around, though, particularly after Betty realizes that the World Order Cabal is keeping Gil prisoner and decides to rescue him. The plot also has more intrigue, as more than one character learns new information about his or her bloodlines. The numerous connections between characters can be confusing, but occasional recaps help; a bewildered Betty even begins one with the phrase, “Let me get this straight.” Still, the author wisely opts for a more linear tale in this installment, tying off lingering storylines, including one about a pesky mole in Control, while leaving a few subplots open for another sequel.
A dizzyingly enjoyable spy plot that offers consistent suspense.