DOUBLE BLIND by Ken Goddard


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 The usually reliable Goddard (Cheater, 1996, etc.) offers a murky, inane, farcical thriller in which federal agents unwittingly work at cross purposes while trying to bag the vindictive villains who are secretly after them. The US Fish & Wildlife Service dispatches two teams of special agents to Oregon's Rogue Valley on seemingly separate missions. One group, headed by ex-policeman Henry Lightstone, is ordered to set up an unlikely sting operation, while the other is told to trail Regis J. Smallsreed, a corrupt congressman with a passion for hunting endangered waterfowl species--in season or out. The crooked Smallsreed has powerful allies from the military/industrial complex, one of whom has vowed vengeance on Lightstone for the loss of his family (in Wildfire, 1994). In aid of their objective, the bad guys (whose ultimate goal is to keep the biosphere safe for ecologically ruinous overdevelopment) recruit a half dozen former Army Rangers. Using an over-the-hill gang of local militia as dupes, this armed and dangerous crew sets an up-country trap for the two-fisted Lightstone and his wiseacre associates. Before they can get the lawmen in their sights, however, the renegade soldiers need a positive ID, which (owing to a series of absurd misfortunes) they never get. In short order, Lightstone is doing undercover work with a luscious self-styled witch known only as Karla, whose amorous black panther (Sasha) takes to him as well. With help from this odd couple, the backwoods copper is able to infiltrate the mercenaries (who still don't know what he looks like). As a quasi- insider, Lightstone is then able to engineer a two-stage showdown that brings all but one of the culpable to book. An addled, awkwardly plotted narrative that strains for, and fails to achieve, devil-may-care effects.

Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 1997
ISBN: 0-312-85796-9
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Forge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1997


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