The sister whose brothers died only weeks earlier in their attempt to plant an atomic bomb in Stone Barrington’s new Los Angeles hotel (Severe Clear, 2012) resolves to follow in their footsteps.
Jasmine Shazaz doesn’t have access to any nuclear devices, but she has serious potential as a vengeful terrorist. When her latest contact tells her, “Welcome to New York….Do you need to sleep?” she replies, “I need to blow up something.” That exchange tells you all you need to know about the geopolitical nuances behind Jasmine’s vendetta against MI6, the CIA, President Will Lee and his wife, Katharine, director of the CIA, Assistant Director Holly Barker, and especially Holly’s frequent lover, Stone Barrington, now a CIA consultant. Starting in London, Jasmine blazes an explosive trail to the New World, making a mockery of the devices and protocols designed to protect England and America from the likes of her. Back in the U.S.A., Katharine Lee’s CIA types, long familiar with the Whack-a-Mole approach to containment, agonize over where the unknown terrorist will emerge next, and Holly schemes to keep a lid on Kelli Keane, the Vanity Fair writer who knows a lot more than the American public needs to know about the attempted bombing in LA. All hands take their jobs so seriously that there’s hardly any time for on-screen sex, and Stone makes not a single new conquest. But wish-fulfillment fantasies still blossom—Holly gets another promotion; Katharine Lee, her eye on a new plum, plans to resign the CIA directorship; and Stone’s best friend, New York cop Dino Bacchetti, proposes marriage—as Jasmine sets her sights on Stone’s building in Manhattan’s Turtle Bay neighborhood.
Agatha Christie’s reputation as a puzzle-master survived the long series of spy thrillers that culminated in Passenger to Frankfurt, and Woods will no doubt survive his anti-terrorist confections, along with all his regulars, at least till the inevitable next round.