Another industrial thriller from the Patterson (Private Games, 2012, etc.) factory.
The Wall has fallen, and in Berlin, a security firm named Private flourishes. Among its many other activities, Private is recently back from the London Olympics—the subject of Patterson et al.’s Private Games—only to find that things are emphatically not cool in the Heimat. When top agent and earner Chris Schneider goes missing, everyone fears the worst. Rightly, too, for the worst comes to pass in gruesome ways that are best described by a first-person narrator, who interrupts the omniscient third-person narrator at the most inconvenient of moments. There’s a gimmick to that, showy enough to let us know that the bad guy is most definitely a very bad guy, implicated and in league with all sorts of lesser villains in a Blofeld-ian sort of way. (Sneers he of a new toy of torture, “I click on the starter. There’s a snapping noise and then a thin, intense flame bursts from a tube. ‘Twenty-four hundred degrees,’ I say, enjoying the terror flaring in Mattie’s face.”) Said Mattie is the heroine of the piece, a tough cookie with a talent for mayhem and a sharp, analytical mind, like Private’s other operatives, whether good or evil. In the end, we get a revisitation of the Cold War, complete with Stasi files and the requisite intrigues; it’s nothing fans of the Bond and Ludlum franchises haven’t seen before, and though it’s second-tier, it’s competent enough.
Call it cut-rate Bourne, then, with enough action to keep the story moving and enough verisimilitude to belay having to suspend disbelief too often.