In the third installment of a superb series, renegade MI6 operative Daniel Marchant and his half brother, most-wanted terrorist Salim Dhar, again prove the most dangerous of odd couples.
In Stock's previous novel, Games Traitors Play (2012), Marchant used his sibling influence to get Dhar to scale down an attack that did destroy an American F-22 Raptor but inflicted far less damage than it would have if a radioactive dirty bomb had been deployed as planned. Marchant's actions saved the U.S. Defense Secretary, but the U.S. still wants him prosecuted for being with Dhar in the plane that launched the attack and not killing the terrorist when he had the chance. With Dhar now on the loose and jihadist bombings he may or may not have something to do with rocking London, the power struggles between the CIA and MI6 and within those agencies have gotten nasty. Marchant's CIA girlfriend has turned on him, and his mentor at MI6 has been pushed out as chief—before he can do anything about the Russian mole in position to take his place. The Americans are so desperate to lay their hands on Marchant, they torture a colleague of his. (The new era of torture is in full force: Dhar's susceptibility to insect bites is exploited to gruesome effect; Marchant was waterboarded in 2010's Dead Spy Running.) Abducted by Iranian collaborators of Dhar's, Marchant must thwart an attack on the USS Truman in the Strait of Hormuz by his brother (whose Indian mother had a brief affair with their father, former MI6 head Stephen Marchant) and get Dhar to expose a newly activated terror cell in London.
Though some readers may be bothered by the novel's anti-Americanisms and others will find Dhar too sympathetically drawn, such strokes are part of Stock's deft contemporization of the spy genre.