WHITE FLAME by James Grady

WHITE FLAME

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 By the author of River of Darkness (1991), among several others, a so-so Washington thriller whose best scenes, though, rise to memorable heights. The FBI must avert the assassination of Faron Sears, a black man and billionaire ex-con who's a likely presidential candidate, a highly original philanthropist, and a charismatic figure. Through an illegal wiretap, the Bureau discovers that Sears is targeted for death on Valentine's Day two weeks hence. Assigned to save him is Agent Dalton Cole, who is assisted by FBI Special Agent Sallie Pickett, a black, and D.C. Homicide Detective Nick Sherman, an alcoholic but a top investigator. Using vast police resources while remaining covert (to hide the Bureau's illegal tap), they pinpoint nut-case Kurt Vance, a master of many dangerous arts who seems to know ahead of time all of Cole's moves and leaves a cross-country trail of gory murders while heading inexorably from Idaho to Washington. Cole and Sallie Pickett inform Sears about the danger and get cover jobs in his organization. But someone in Sears's group is a traitor who has hired the killer. Meanwhile, Cole and Vance trail Sears and are present when he delivers a profoundly moving speech to an audience of hard-nosed black adolescents who begin by distrusting him and end mesmerized by his uncompromising words. This is, frankly, the novel's high point, though Sears lifts every scene he's in. Grady, once a staffer for Jack Anderson, knows his background stuff and routinely disorients the reader with his plot-flow of FBI departments and Congressional committees. Aside from Sears, standard tension prevails. Sold to the movies. Whoever plays the actor-proof role of Sears (James Earl Jones? Morgan Freeman?) already has a headlock on an Oscar nomination. Grady has created a protagonist who lingers in the mind long after the last shot is fired. (Film rights to Tristar; $200,000 ad/promo; author tour)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-7871-0903-7
Page count: 304pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1996




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