In Valletta’s (The Short Stories and Poetry of Robert Valletta, 2018, etc.) thriller, two secret agents separately hunt amoral businessmen who are aiding America’s enemies.
After U.S. Marine Lt. Danny Gallaher escapes captivity by the North Korean military, he comes home to learn from his Uncle Kayden, the special assistant to the president for national security affairs, that his research scientist father, Dylan, and FBI agent brother, Chase, have been murdered—likely as part of a conspiracy. He wants Danny to unofficially investigate. Soon, Gregory Marshall, a British undercover agent in the Russian military with the code name “Anastasia,” is drawn into the mission. At the heart of the traitorous conspiracy are American Christian DeLorenzo and Frenchman Francois Rousseau, who plan to sell stolen, cutting-edge weaponry to Russia, which would tip the balance of global power. As Danny slowly puts the pieces of the puzzle together, Anastasia is surprisingly chosen to head up a Russian operation assigned to take control of the stolen technology. A fortuitous meeting enables Danny and Anastasia to join forces in order to stop a potentially lethal plot. Valletta creates a frightening but believable scenario in this novel. His research is admirably thorough, and his descriptions of various scientific advances and government organizations ring true. The author also smoothly weaves together many disparate plot threads along the way. However, his characters are uneven in quality. The most plausible is Anastasia, an effective spy who’s forced to make a painful decision. Danny, however, seems too resourceful for a young Marine—calling to mind the superhero Captain America (or perhaps, in this case, Lieutenant America). The evil villains are also overly cartoonish and their cleverness can be hard to swallow. However, Valletta’s frenetic pacing mostly overcomes these flaws.
A fast-paced, absorbing actioner with promising leads that could easily be brought back for future series installments.