A CIA officer and a scientist race to recover incriminating evidence before government agents or a sadistic killer can stop them in Baker’s debut thriller.
Environmental crusader and ethnobotanist Dr. April Gentry has samples of Rapatea Z, a plant that could lead to a billion-dollar drug. Companies are understandably interested in acquiring it, and one of them, Sandoval Genetics, has sent a dangerous man, Anakim Sebastian, after April. Meanwhile, her computer-genius colleague Claude De Finod recently used an Oval Office code key to download a hefty batch of government data. Now he’s missing in action, but authorities believe that April knows the location of the stolen information. CIA agent Ian Wolfe opts to help April find De Finod’s hidden files, and they go on the lam together with the murderous Sebastian at their heels. The author dives right into the story, opening with April already in Brazil with her friend and partner Emilio Cortez gathering Rapatea Z samples. It establishes the book’s rapid pace, which rarely lets up. Back stories, particularly April’s and Wolfe’s, definitely augment the characters; April’s father, Michael, for example, simply disappeared when she was 11, and Wolfe, during his time as a Olympian decathlete, was publicly shamed by a scandal. The plot is so dense and features so many players that some of the finer details wind up buried. In most instances, however, specifics aren’t necessary: readers do eventually learn what De Finod downloaded, for example, but Baker wisely treats the files as a MacGuffin. Baker also creates an indelible villain to pit against the scientist: Sebastian, who hopes the world will fall into chaos even as April fights to save it. Action fans will be sated, particularly near the end, when Wolfe showcases his martial arts, hangs from a helicopter, and—suitably for a former Olympian—hurls a pole “javelin style.”
Although this thriller has many subplots and supporting characters, they never overwhelm its engaging storyline and alluring protagonists.