In Brooks’ (Pressure Points, 2013, etc.) thriller, Wolfgang Schmitt’s latest undercover gig for the FBI puts him at a Las Vegas hotel-casino to bring down mobsters.
Doing a covert assignment for the FBI made a millionaire out of Wolfgang, a former model. But when his offshore account suddenly disappears, it’s clear that the feds want his attention to coerce him into going undercover again. Wolf poses as a hit man offering his services to Lynn Valentine to off her hubby, Phillip. Feds can then charge her with conspiracy and subsequently squeeze her for info on the mob-tied casino, Xanadu, that the Valentines run. Wolf is under the guise of being Lynn’s personal trainer, but a wary Phillip and his muscle-bound crony let Wolf know he isn’t trusted. Speaking of trust: Wolf’s old FBI contact, Sherlock, has him secretly keeping an eye on the rogue agents who gave Wolf his current operation. Things only get worse (and more confusing) when cops arrest Wolf for murder. Brooks’ novel opens as a straightforward spy story but gradually turns into a gleefully convoluted tale. FBI agent Renee, for example, is dubious from the start: she’d been assessing (and dating) Wolf as a woman named Carolyn and joins him in Vegas as Lynn’s assistant Nicole (her real name isn’t known). By the time Wolf loses contact with Sherlock, he’s dealing with more bodies and a couple of kidnappings and making so many deals with shady people that readers’ heads are likely to spin. Yet the story is surprisingly easy to follow since Brooks keeps the numerous characters and aliases in line. And while the final explanation of Xanadu’s nefarious affairs may not be entirely convincing, the across-the-board resolution doesn’t leave anything up in the air. Wolf’s perpetual cynicism is solid comic relief, even when his sharp tongue and rash attitude in the company of various thugs come at the expense of his safety, as when Phillip’s goons make sure Wolf is well-acquainted with a few weightlifting plates. But his faults help him stand out. Unlike James Bond, Wolf walks away from a blackjack table with nothing but sardonic remarks for the dealer.
Filled with enough twists to make a roulette wheel dizzy.