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 A single-minded duel of tough, tough former operatives for the CIA-based Exchange--one retired, one feared lost to the opposition-- now turned against each other. Tom Croft, the retiree, just wants to be left alone. Haunted by his memories of Vietnam and the brutality of the Exchange--especially the disastrous job that drove him to quit--he's retreated to inoffensive Amber, New York, where he doesn't even have a phone. But when he turns down the Exchange's request to kill his old buddy Theodore Fairweather, a.k.a. Gray Wolf, he's warned that Gray Wolf, who knows everything, will assume he's taken the job and come after him first. Tom does just what you'd expect--runs an exhaustive check on red-haired Meredith Kellerman, the new lady in town who's exactly the kind of person the Exchange would send to snuggle up to him--and then, after his dog is killed, he takes off with snuggling Meredith for New York (where Gray Wolf kills everybody but the principals), Mexico (where a car bomb takes care of Meredith), Indonesia (where maddened Tom finally goes after Gray Wolf but just misses), and Dublin (the payoff). This straight-arrow plot--your grandmother could predict the one twist that's saved for the last chapter--is spiced with periodic flashbacks to the killing scenes that bonded predator and prey, and with an impressive catalogue of killing hardware, every item of which gets demonstrated on live targets. Frey (Came a Dead Cat, 1991, etc.) aims for Hemingway but settles for Spillane. Recommended for high-energy addicts a lot more credulous than the hero.

Pub Date: June 9th, 1992
ISBN: 0-8050-1764-X
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1992