Kay Hamilton—former Drug Enforcement Administration agent and woman of steel—takes on the all-knowing National Security Agency in the third entry in Lawson's series (Viking Bay, 2015, etc.).
Dividing the timeline into days and hours, Lawson’s latest starts with a crime at the office of Hamilton’s employer, covert intelligence agency the Callahan Group. Bad guy Otis and his crew break in, kill a couple of the company’s employees, and steal the safe. Thomas Callahan fights back, killing one of the intruders, but he’s badly wounded in the process. Enter Hamilton, deadly, beautiful, and dismissed from the DEA. She goes on the offensive, trading bullets with the bad guys before her boss whispers that it has something to do with the NSA. Hamilton enlists the NSA’s Olivia Prescott to help her find the men who attacked Callahan’s, has a steamy interlude with her sexy, filthy-rich lover, Eli Dolan, reflects on her brilliant daughter away at Duke studying to be a physician, and unravels a conspiracy that involves both ultraconservative brothers and hard-left liberals, a drunken woman who never speaks in anything less than a scream, and some bad Chinese players. Lawson’s mechanical writing style—with its passive constructions and relentless physical descriptions of every character, no matter how minor—proves uniformly dull. Although the author gets points for trying to make the plot relevant to today’s headlines, he ultimately offers the reader no one to care about: Hamilton has no depth nor anything that makes her particularly sympathetic or endearing. As a result, any vulnerability she has wields the emotional impact of a bowl of cornflakes: it has a little flavor, but it’s not at all memorable.
With characters as flat as construction paper and a formulaic plot, this book manages what other thrillers about the NSA have failed to do: make it boring.