A crime kingpin’s long reach presents a unique challenge to a maverick FBI team in Ward’s latest (Four Kinds of Rain, 2006, etc.).
After a yearlong surveillance, Los Angeles agents Oscar Hidalgo and Jack Harper take down cool diamond smuggler Karl Steinbach, known as The Kraut, with an elaborate sting that climaxes in a bowling alley. Now Jack—wound up by his deep feelings for new girlfriend Julie, who may be “the one,” and by the widening rebellious streak of his teenage son Kevin—can’t shake fears about Steinbach’s reputation for retaliation. When Kevin comes home two hours late one evening, Jack’s worry goes into overdrive, though only the reader knows at this point how well-founded his concerns are. Meanwhile, Jack and Oscar’s superior, William Forrester, seems determined to (falsely) nail them, along with veteran fellow agents Zac Blakely and Ron Hughes, for skimming the proceeds of a recent bank-robbery bust. When Zac, Jack’s mentor, dies in a suspicious accident, Oscar instantly sees his death as Steinbach’s handiwork. He and Jack go on the offensive, though not in time to save Ron from an equally fatal encounter. The avenging pair shake the underworld trees concerning Steinbach and also implement a subtler investigation of Forrester and his possible motives for targeting them. The extra hours put in on these pursuits strain Jack’s relationship with Julie and leave Kevin largely unsupervised. Danger predictably follows.
Loaded with familiar genre elements, but packed with action as well and energetically written.