With the conspiracy meter cranked to the max, North and Hamer (American Heroes, 2013, etc.) embroil Jake Kruse, Marine-turned–FBI agent, in the investigation of an unholy alliance between North Korea and Iran.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea—the paranoid Kim dynasty—earns $1 billion a year by smuggling knockoff Rolexes, counterfeit name-brand cigarettes and fake trademarked pharmaceuticals into the United States. After establishing his bona fides in Los Angeles’ Korean gangland, Jake works undercover to stop the deluge of illicit merchandise, an enterprise uneasily controlled by rivals Mssrs. Yeong and Park, both assumed to be North Korean agents. While he’s gathering evidence, Jake is offered a fee to whack Park’s daughter, half the money paid in advance. The bills turn out to be "Supernotes," counterfeit bills so perfect as to be nearly undetectable. Now Jake’s involved in strategic-level spy games, with the North Koreans intending to flood the U.S. with Supernotes to help finance a nuclear weapons project contracted by Iran’s ayatollahs. The fast-moving plot will come off as realistic to anyone following geopolitics; however, Jake’s an action hero taken straight from Column A of the hero menu: a tough guy barely constrained by bureaucratic technicalities, always ready to pull the trigger in spite of a supervisor’s qualms. The remainder of the cast—Koreans, good and bad; other wannabe gangsters; and a sleeper cell of Islamic terrorists—are plugged in when the narrative needs a boost. The writing ranges from the prosaic toward the occasionally bombastic—"the ever-defiant undercover agent, showing no fear." Hoary clichés abound, but the authors bring realism to all things martial, including well-choreographed fight scenes. While there are occasional allusions to "political indigestion" and recent Obama missteps like "Fast and Furious, the IRS Enemies List, and Benghazi," this effort is less Fox-filtered than North’s previous novels.
Lifting a white paper right off a think-tank desk, the authors have applied a bit of imagination and come up with an acceptable action-adventure.