After all their meddling with America, the Russians have placed a mole in the White House, leaving over-his-head surveillance specialist Peter Sutherland the only man who can stop them.
The son of a wrongly disgraced FBI spy chief whose alleged treachery has tainted his own career, Peter is surprised to land a job in the White House situation room. His assignment is to sit by a special phone through the wee hours, in the rare event that someone calls with an urgent coded message. After almost a year of phone-sitting, he finally gets such a call from Rose Larkin, a panicked young woman who has just escaped the bullet-riddled home of her aunt and uncle. Counterintelligence agents, they were thought by the Russians to be in possession of a hotly pursued red ledger. Rose is drawn to Peter for his caring nature. He is increasingly committed to helping her, even if that means lying to his superiors, as the people whom he thought he could trust prove untrustworthy. Can he even turn for help to President Michael Travers, his basketball buddy? Though some of the spy stuff is so standard as to be silly, Quirk keeps things moving. But the spark and surprise of his past thrillers, such as Cold Barrel Zero (2016), are largely missing. And though Quirk has never drawn characters with much depth, the paper-thinness of Peter (who disdains the Hardy Boys but frequently seems to be emulating them) and Rose (one of whose main roles is to point out when Peter is bleeding) is disappointing.
Quirk goes for timeliness in imagining the Russians taking control of Washington, but while the book does resonate to a small degree with current events, reality beat fiction to such possibilities as our enemy owning a sitting U.S. president.