A rip-roaring thriller wherein the hero must protect both his son and the free world from an erstwhile friend.
Lord (and Commander) Alexander Hawke is a superrich British warrior whose life Vladimir Putin once saved in prison, establishing a friendship that puts them on Alex-Volodya terms. Over drinks, Putin informs Hawke that the Russians have invented a completely new and powerful explosive, Feuerwasser, which looks just like water—or vodka. Soon it’s clear Putin will use this fearsome fluid to intimidate the world and reassert the glory of the old USSR. “He used a thimbleful to vaporize a huge sunken Russian freighter,” Hawke says. Hawke decides to help stop the aggression, but the bad guys know his vulnerability—if they kidnap his 6-year-old son, Alexei, they can neutralize Hawke. Alas for Putin, he mustn’t have read the author’s Warriors, or he would have realized how tough it is to harm Hawke’s child. Along the way are colorful characters Crystal Methenny, a vile siren who has cleavage to die for; Spider Payne, an ex-CIA operative gone bad; and Uncle Joe, a Stalin look-alike. Good guys Ambrose Congreve and Stokely Jones are back, perhaps for the duration of the series, although once again fealty to Hawke proves unhealthful for some. Fans of Ian Fleming’s novels will love Hawke, even if he’s not quite as over-the-top as James Bond. But when Hawke wonders “how the hell to stop a megalomaniac with a weapon like this,” his doubt doesn’t linger. “Here we go again,” he quickly decides. “Alex Hawke, saving the world, one madman at a time,” and the English-speaking world knows it can sleep well at night.
Loaded with action and driven by a man of improbably admirable qualities, this adventure is a great escape from reality.