A FAINT COLD FEAR by Robert Daley
Kirkus Star


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Daley's strongest police thriller since Year of the Dragon (1981), featuring another N.Y.C. cop caught in an alien culture--this time, the cocaine wilds of Colombia. Ray Douglas is the star narcotics cop who's summarily exiled to Bogota as a DEA advisor when he feuds with the mayor over control of drug cases. Introspective yet headstrong, Ray's a fascinatingly complex character whose subtlest shadings surface during through his affair with Jane Fox, the new Colombian correspondent for an unnamed N.Y.C. daily (read: the Times). Striking up a friendship of convenience--Ray gives Jane access to his Bogota contacts while she keeps his name in print--the recently widowed cop and the newly separated reporter soon fall in hopeless and fearsome love. And that love acts as a kind of moral barometer against which Daley measures the awesome inhumanity of drug trafficking, personified in the ruthless, roman á clef-ed members of the Medellin cartel--especially the cartel's thuggish leader, Pablo Marzo (read: Pablo Escobar), and its suave, lady-killing banker, David Ley. As the two drug barons jockey for power within the cartel, Ray and Jane step dangerously into their orbit when Jane insists on visiting Medellin (trips to the cocaine fields of Peru and Bolivia also widen the novel's docudramatic scope). In Medellin, at a bullfight, Jane accosts Lay, who invites her to his ranch. Weeks later, after Lay's planned killing of Marzo backfires into Ley's own death, that invitation inspires Marzo to kidnap Jane as a warning to all reporters. Distraught, Ray pulls White House strings to organize Colombia's cowed armed forces into a helicopter posse that rescues Jane and, days later, slays Marzo--a wishful climax for this proudly polemical novel that has Ray declare the cartel members ""the richest, most ruthless, most vicious thugs the world has ever known."" Shunning the pyrotechnics of Tom Clancy's anti-cartel novel (Clear and Present Danger) and the emotional manipulations of Stuart Woods' (White Cargo), Daley delivers a sober, steadily gripping narrative whose finely observed love story infuses the intense cop-vs.-dealers action with a resounding humanity.

Pub Date: Oct. 25th, 1990
Publisher: Little, Brown