The G-8 schedules a sit down, al-Qaeda vows a blow-up and once again, the would-be Batman (Jake Grafton) and Robin (Tommy Carmellini) come to the aid of their country.
Paris, one of the loveliest cities in the world, is where something ugly will soon be happening—at least it will if certain ill-intentioned jihadists have their way. In its sights, al-Qaeda, making no secret of its brutal and bloody intent, has the prime ministers of Great Britain and Japan, the Chancellor of Germany, the president of France and, gulp, POTUS. It follows that in D.C. the security wonks are getting antsy. Out of retirement comes intrepid, and damn-near-indestructible Rear Admiral Jake Grafton, charged anew with saving the nation. With him is his scampish young sidekick Tommy Carmellini, who did a little saving of his own the last time the two hooked up. Tommy, however, appears something other than his eager-to-rumble self. Down-time—or, a period when no one is shooting at him—has its obvious upside. But the matter is presented starkly: It’s either Paris or Iraq. In France, as events march apace, there will be times when both heroes will question the validity of their choices. To begin with, an ex-girlfriend with a grudge complicates life for Tommy. An enigmatic opposite number in the French intelligence service makes the usually unflappable Jake a touch less certain than he should be about his ability to protect the president once on foreign soil. As conference day approaches, the prevailing spook mode shifts from cloak to dagger, and suddenly the guys they thought were watching their backs are aiming at them.
The Coonts method (Liars & Thieves, 2004, etc.) has always been slam-bang, seek-your-George-Smileys-elsewhere, but here the action seems forced, and gratuitous, leaving the storytelling punchless.