COLD COLD HEART by James Elliott


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Ollie North tracking a serial killer? Not quite -- but this much-hyped, portentously pseudonymous first novel reads like a vigilante wet dream crossed with a campaign bio for the would-be senator. Before he was convicted of lying to Congress about his role in the BCCI scandal, CIA stalwart Mike Culley ran KGB operative Nikolai Lubanov as an agent-in-place in Moscow. Now Lubanov has defected to the U.S., checked out of his new identity as John Malik, and hijacked a truckload of blank currency paper, obviously preparing for a major foray into counterfeiting. Culley's old CIA mates, determined to keep the scandal of a paid defector turning criminal all in the family, spring Culley from prison and set him quietly on Malik's trail. They don't tell him that the real reason they're looking for Malik (and trying to keep the hunt secret from the FBI) is that, as a break from counterfeiting, he's reverted to his first love: torturing and killing young women. When Culley finds out that the man he's hunting through Virginia and on to New Jersey and Brighton Beach is a brutal murderer, he decides he doesn't owe his old buddies a thing. Teaming up with Julie Houser, an ex-cop Washington Post reporter whose sidearms are almost as big as his, Culley resolves to take Malik on his own terms, stopping off in New York only long enough to see his touchingly supportive daughter Jenny (""You have nothing to be ashamed of. What you did had nothing to do with right and wrong.""), who just happens to be the sort of attractive young woman Malik's been seeing a lot of lately. Rabble-rousing speeches aside -- the quotable bits just go on and on -- a routine romp through familiar territory. Fascinatingly banal, like watching Liz Taylor guest-star on General Hospital.

Pub Date: Sept. 6th, 1994
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Delacorte