A pastor who’s a former SEAL and CIA operative tries to protect a potential candidate for the Russian presidency from assassins in this eighth installment of a thriller series.
Pastor Stephen Grant is leaving behind his Long Island Lutheran church—temporarily—for a conference at the Reagan Library in California. He’ll be supporting his wife, Jennifer, who’s promoting her debut book on economic policy. Also attending the conference is Russian businessman Vitaly Orlov, whose political presence is so strong in his own country that some believe he may run for president. This has sparked criticism from incumbent Russian President Nestor Petrunin, who calls into question Orlov’s loyalty to his homeland, as his respect for Ronald Reagan is well-known. Orlov has clearly amassed enemies, evidenced by the two assailants that target him and his wife, Maya, in California. Luckily, Grant thwarts the assassination, and at the pastor’s recommendation, Orlov hires the security firm CDM. CEO Paige Caldwell, Grant’s old CIA partner and ex-lover, and the CDM team are on full alert, as there are further attempts on Orlov’s life. Tensions only escalate when political assassinations in Russia suggest that someone is staging a coup. It seems Orlov is not safe in either country, even with Grant and CDM as his guardians. Keating (Lionhearts, 2017, etc.) has accumulated an impressive assortment of characters in his series, and he gives each of them ample opportunity to shine. Caldwell, for example, is formidable both in action and business and has a (mostly) secret relationship with U.S. President Adam Links. As in the preceding novels, the author skillfully blends Grant’s sermonizing with intermittent bouts of violence. It creates a rousing moral quandary for readers to ponder without either side overwhelming the storyline. Tight action scenes complement the suspense (uncertainty over when the next possible attack will be), though a later plot turn is too predictable. The villains, meanwhile, are just as rich and engrossing as the good guys and gals.
The familiar protagonist, along with sensational new and recurring characters, drives an energetic political tale.