In his sixth outing (Presidential Deal, 1998, etc.), John Deal meets an old friend and copes with a new nemesis—aside from that it’s business as usual.
Kidnap him, beat him up, threaten him, blackmail him, Florida’s most independent building contractor, with the hard fists and rock-solid value system, remains one tough nut to crack. This time, it’s a villainous former CIA agent, who never saw the dirty trick he wouldn’t eagerly add to his bag, exerting the pressure. It’s all about money, of course. Years ago, John’s dad, Barton, was hijacked by a mobster and forced into the role of hit man. Or at least a pretend one. Target: Grant Rhodes, nightclub impresario, multimillionaire, and friend. The hit goes awry, the mobster’s killed, but in a convoluted, unforeseeable way, Barton winds up agreeing to look after a lot of Grant’s money. Flash forward 20 years. Barton’s dead, so is Grant, enter erstwhile CIA man Talbot W. Sams to the accompaniment of hisses, thoroughly au courant with what happened that long-ago night. History repeats itself, and again Deal is hijacked into being a bad guy’s cat’s-paw. In the meantime, Richard Rhodes, son of Grant, has decided it’s time to check in with his old prep-school buddy John. Richard too knows all about Barton’s custodianship and, figuring that it was passed from father to son, has arrived to collect his inheritance. He’d have come sooner had not a Ponzi scheme of his collapsed, forcing him to flee the police of several nations. Now, with multiple pairs of acquisitive hands stretched out for the swag, the stage is set for the climactic shootout, which once might have been rousing but these days is merely obligatory.
Standiford’s very real talent can make standard stuff seem fresher than it is.