A third adventure takes globe-trotting independent contractor John Knox and forensic accountant Grace Chu to Istanbul—and all around, over and beneath this crossroads city as well.
According to David Dulwich, the only thing Rutherford Risk needs is for Knox and Grace to finagle five minutes alone with Mashe Okle, a medical-equipment designer and financier whose restaurateur brother Akram is incurably addicted to antiquities. The enticement will be a bust of Harmodius presumed lost for many years, now duly authenticated and offered to Akram for a small fraction of its estimated $10 million value. As usual (Choke Point, 2013, etc.), Knox thinks the project sounds dubious, and Dulwich’s mantra in response to his questions—“NTK,” for Need to Know—isn’t reassuring. But the medications Knox’s brother and partner back in Michigan needs are so pricey that Knox has little choice. So he signs on and heads for Istanbul, a fascinating, inscrutable city where the one thing that’s clear is that every player in this particular game—Akram, Mashe, gallery owner Victoria Momani, art evaluator Dr. Hassan Adjani and, of course, Dulwich himself—is also playing one of a number of deeper games. Grace is kidnapped; Knox is shot at; and the closer they get to their target, the more elusive he seems. That’s not just because the characters are opaque; it’s because brainy Pearson’s plotting and writing are designed to impress and befuddle the gentle reader, who may feel as overwhelmed as the sorely tried principals.
Filled with bromides about tradecraft—“We don’t know who we’re working for. We don’t know who we’re working against”; “[t]he easy answer is never the right one”; “too many unknowns”—that are all too appropriate to this Rubik’s cube of a thriller.