A journalist battles a cabal that controls the global economy, much of the U.S. government and countless teams of special-ops honchos in this boisterous thriller.
Fetching Washington Post reporter Lynn Wilson receives two valuable gifts from her uncle, CIA legend Boots Brody. The first is solid training in weapons handling, spycraft, hot-wiring and other handy skills. The second, which Boots hands over just before he is murdered, is a voluminous file that draws murky connections between high-ranking U.S. senators, oil companies and decades’ worth of seemingly unrelated crimes and misadventures, including coups, assassinations, nuclear accidents and even Monicagate. Buzz-cut heavies in SUVs duly materialize and Lynn turns for help to superhacker Sam Wilkins and to her cute Post colleague Chris Urban, whom she trusts with her life—until she overhears him whispering cryptic messages about her into his cell phone. As Lynn, Sam and sundry connect the dots, they stumble upon a shadowy team of intelligence operatives, a network of all-seeing surveillance satellites and moles in the FBI, the Secret Service and the military; the gore quickly escalates, with heads and chests exploding, henchmen dying by the dozen and the whole executive branch edging toward interagency civil war. Hazlewood creates an ambitious, byzantine thriller, but it gets away from him. His conspiracy is so vast and many-tentacled that a huge cast of characters is required to staff and thwart it—so huge that the narrative has trouble individuating them and gets bogged down trying to find interesting things for everyone to do. The leads, especially the bland Lynn and the callow, all-bark archvillain, are a disappointment, while the best characters get killed off early or, like Lynn’s brilliantly ditzy Post assistants, relegated to marginal roles. Still, Hazlewood writes a punchy prose and manages to craft many nifty scenes of sly sleuthing and intricate, gripping combat procedural that will keep readers turning the pages.
A distended but often entertaining actioner.