An experienced, cynical CIA investigator faces many changes: a replacement boss, a new partner, a reunited lover, and a London assignment, which turns deadly.
In this sequel, blunt CIA investigator Dennis Cunningham meets his new, young-looking boss, Louise Nordland, and asks, “So how old are you then?” His fresh assignment: investigate the disappearance of Richard Arnold, a veteran of the agency and its deputy chief of station in London. The House Intelligence Committee chairman requests that Dennis search for Arnold, rumored to have been taken by Islamic terrorists. The agent is paired with paunchy, affable Fred Kaczka, a member of the National Security Agency’s Inspector General’s Office. The pair travels to London to track down Arnold and probe a possible Russian connection. Also jetting there is Judy White, the Australian policewoman whom Dennis wooed while on assignment Down Under in the thriller series’ previous volume. When reunited with her blue-eyed Yank, White reveals a new sun tattoo at the base of her spine. “Just thought I’d be daring. I lead such a dull life,” the divorced single mother explains. But their pleasurable reunion is short-lived. White vanishes while jogging through London. Is her disappearance payback for Dennis’ digging into Arnold’s disappearance? Or was she kidnapped in connection with an Australian case? Ultimately, can she be found alive, as police have discovered graves holding limbless torsos that have had their tattoos removed by razors? Readers of Yocum’s (Color of Blood, 2015, etc.) first installment may feel that he relies too much on torture and hospital scenes, but those new to the series will be missing some backstory. For example, Dennis’ adult daughter, Beth, introduced in the first book, is not even given lip service here. Nevertheless, this taut and entertaining thriller benefits from fierce and quirky characters (Fred is a Henny Youngman aficionado), requisite twists, and intriguing relationships (Dennis and White predict early on that their London rendezvous will result in either a permanent sizzle or the final fizzle of their long-distance liaison). Yocum also delivers convincing dialogue (At one point, Dennis discusses moving to a new country: “I don’t have a job in Australia. I just started back to work here. I like what I do. What am I going to do there, play golf every day? I don’t play golf. Take photos of kangaroos?”).
Continent hopping, clandestine meetings, cruelty, and cuddles—and that’s only the C’s.