Media talking head and newspaper columnist Stasi pens a conspiracy thriller that chases the legend of a terrorist who might be more than he seems.
Overly plucky reporter Alessandra “Ali” Russo, a newspaper columnist like the author, happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when an accused international terrorist is brought to trial at the United Nations. Demiel ben Yusef stands accused by the International Court of Justice of causing the deaths of thousands in terrorist incidents aimed at religions across the globe. When Yusef, a prisoner under enormous security, improbably manages to stop and plant a kiss directly on the reporter’s mouth in full view of the world’s press, she’s stunned. Ali doesn’t know Yusef; she only knows that his trial is a three-ring circus, and covering it is the biggest story of her career. When she turns in a column that falls short of what her editor expects, she’s unceremoniously fired. Returning home, she finds her apartment ransacked and relies on an odd assortment of old and new friends to help her puzzle through the who, what and why of what is happening to her. Although the snooze-worthy courtroom opening falls flat with a silly and spectacularly dull trial, Stasi picks up the pace once she puts her heroine on the run in this familiar conspiracy-theory–centered novel, with its glib-talking, spunky protagonist, tackling of the controversial issue of cloning, religious persecution, international coverups and a bevy of priests, both as friendlies and heavies. Melodramatic in places, with a tendency to bog down in historical minutiae, the narrative takes a sometimes difficult-to-follow trip around the world, plunging Ali into intrigue, narrow escapes and a darkening plot that threatens both her life and the balance of world power.
Stasi trots out the usual tricks in this provocative but often clunky thriller that spotlights an evil conspiracy and a slightly past-her-prime reporter who chases a murky truth through numerous time zones, leaving the bad guys scrambling to keep their nefarious plans intact.