A novel blends espionage, retribution, and economics.
In this sequel to East of Egypt (2009), the author literally resurrects David Anderson, a longtime Special Forces operative and financial wizard. David had been left for dead by a CIA assassin after his mentor, Bill Murphy, and his lover Srey An were killed in the same duplicitous mission. A cardiac surgeon–turned-monk saves David’s life. The monk’s brother is Gen. Zhao, an ambitious military leader in China. Zhao takes advantage of David’s thirst for revenge and unique skill set to inflict fiscal ruin not only on the CIA, but also the United States itself, which the general blames for the death of his son. After Zhao uses—then kills—David’s contacts in this venture, the protagonist vows vengeance. As he explains to Ming Li, Zhao’s former aide and David’s new lover, the general remains a meticulous adversary: “Zhao kills as though he is moving chess pieces and eliminating people is of no greater consequence than removing chess pieces that threaten his King.” Initially, David gets assistance from the Americans and the Russians, but changing leadership results in them pursuing the hero as well. Still, David uses his brains, muscle, and drive as he attempts to complete his operation. In his narrative, Grant (The Lebensborn Experiment, 2011, etc.) makes effective use of regulatory loopholes in the mid-2000s that allow Zhao to rain monetary havoc on America. The taut thriller is almost a cautionary tale for today’s less-regulated economy. In this second volume of the series, David continues his evolution, as his two lovers have introduced him to Buddhism’s tenets, some of which, especially karma, he takes to heart. This spiritual turn raises the question of what’s next for a man who has been so immersed in violence for much of his adult life. One of the story’s drawbacks is that Zhao and, to a lesser degree, the Russian intelligence chief, Dmitri Vasiliev, are rather one-dimensional. In addition, in David’s brutal world, intriguing characters fall way too quickly. But the author has shown the ability to create believable new players to populate his series. So it’s a safe bet that Grant will forge a strong cast for his next installment.
The author delivers another top-notch thriller, full of colorful characters, financial schemes, and exotic backdrops.