BY DAWN’S EARLY LIGHT by Philip Shelby


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More conspiracy kitsch from Shelby (Gatekeeper, 1998, etc.), centering this time on those inscrutable Chinese.

If only bright, beautiful, unlucky Sloane Ryder had been looking the other way when that piece of errant mail landed on her desk. Instead, in the blink of an unwary eye, she spies something she never should have, something so fraught with negative consequences for her that on the instant the young financial analyst becomes, in effect, a walking junk bond—suddenly valueless where she had been highly respected, and having no real insight into who or what might be stalking her. An authentically diabolical conspiracy, it ensnares Sloane, reaches deep into the White House, and involves some of President Claudia Ballantine’s most trusted fellow travelers in the corridors of power. Consider the president’s dear old friend Dodge French, for instance, the Machiavellian China wonk, who never hesitates to be treasonous if the goal is sufficiently patriotic. For a variety of convoluted reasons, he’s decided it’s in his country’s best interest that certain secret protocols be adhered to—those that assure the return of Taiwan to mainland China, and woe betide all who get in his way. For them, there’s the murderous Handyman, “one of the top four assassins in the world.” He can be dispatched by his master whenever the need arises, thus adding a nuance to the phrase “French leave,” as in Dodge French. In the meantime, poor Sloane—the focus of inimical forces only half understood, her career in shreds, her prospects melancholy—finally gets a break when she’s recruited by Lee Porter, the Morgan Freeman look-alike, for an elite counterintelligence task force. Not only does this help her foil Dodge French, the Handyman, and China, but it leads to true love in the arms of a hunkish homicide cop.

Turgid prose, formulaic plotting, characters as lively as wooden carvings. Your call.

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-684-84263-7
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2002


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