Angliss’ (Mrs America: Gunluv, 2014, etc.) latest thriller in the Retimer series finds recurring Aussie intelligence agent Luthan Fennes searching for his brother, who doesn’t seem to have returned from his space tour.
Luthan doesn’t understand brother Reginald Dolsen’s shelling out his life’s savings to join a tour of the International Space Station. But Luthan, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation operative better known as the Retimer, is understandably concerned when the tourists aren’t there to greet loved ones upon their return to Earth. CIA agents tell Luthan that Dolsen has been kidnapped, but later, after Luthan ignores the agency’s warnings to stop looking for his brother, they admit that Dolsen is still in space. He’s been infected with a virus called Sifersin and effectively quarantined in the ISS. Sifersin may have made its way to Earth, courtesy of Dr. Leroy Lloyd-Jones, who, along with his brother Arthur, was a passenger on the latest tour. Luthan heads to London to find the scientist and a possible link to terrorists, hopefully saving Dolsen in the process. In spite of its sci-fi premise, Angliss’ novel stays true to the series and keeps its hero’s feet firmly on the ground for most of the story. Readers who’ve read any of the previous books will recognize some recurring themes: bomb-loving terrorists; car chases and sequences riddled with bullets; and the Retimer’s willingness to kill, including CIA agents—but only if they try to kill him first. Even a tennis match between Luthan and Leroy plays out like an action scene before being interrupted by an assassination attempt. At one point, Luthan mocks James Bond, citing the Retimer’s employment of “genuine, not cinematic, spy tradecraft” (this is soon after he’s used a jet pack to escape). The 007 inspiration is unmistakable, and Luthan, under an alias, can’t resist introducing himself as “Bach. James Bach.” There are some affecting moments early on with Luthan’s wife, Valerie, and their three children. Suspecting perpetually absent Luthan of infidelity, she even does something unheard of so that cops will find her hubby for her—a potentially interesting subplot that’s unfortunately dropped and never picked back up.
The Retimer is at his best in the field, and genre fans will gladly follow the spy who leaves behind nothing but bullet holes.