NO WAY BACK by Michael Crow


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So-so thriller about a Baltimore cop who goes from suspended scapegoat to short-term spook.

Luther Ewing (The Bite, 2004, etc.) is one of those maverick cops whose creativity tends to irritate establishment lawmen in the more senior positions. So, when a drug bust goes bad—and the media turns savage—it’s no real surprise that Luther gets to carry the can. He draws a six-month suspension, and, while it understandably embitters him, it also makes him available to the enigmatic and opportunistic Mr. Westley, who descends on him from the upper reaches of the CIA. Westley is no stranger to Luther. As a freelancer, he worked for Westley in Sarajevo a while back, a relationship that produced decidedly mixed results. Luther doesn’t like the man but acknowledges that his timing is impeccable—the point being that Luther would have snapped up an offer from Satan himself rather than endure six months of adrenaline-rush abstinence. Not that the gig seems particularly fraught: a baby-sitting situation with no reason to expect heavy stuff or, in spook-speak, “wet work.” “A casual stroll in and out again,” promises Westley. Luther knows better than to take the shifty spy-master at his word, of course, but the prospect of six months as an ordinary citizen—without firearms, fake identities, martial arts, or any other swashbuckling appurtenance—is enough to chill the blood. When he signs on, he learns that he’s to keep a South Korean businessman from being snatched by those determined to block his deal with certain rogue Russian generals. It’s a deal backed by the U.S., involving the swap of $7.5 million for a technologically advanced McGuffin. Luther goes clandestine, becomes Terrence Prentice, falls in love with Nadya, the Russian-born, Cambridge-educated spy babe and, in the fullness of time, discovers the many ways silky, slithery Westley has understated the case.

Overfamiliar characters, underimagined story.

Pub Date: June 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-06-072583-4
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2005