Kuch’s debut thriller combines technology and an unusual method of terrorism.
Former cop Duane Rondo has fallen into a job near Washington, D.C., using a program called ISPI to gather information—even the smallest details—on individuals who seem suspicious or are running for a position in the government. That’s how he discovers the perfectly clear record of Sybille Haskin, a nominee for secretary of Homeland Security, and comes to the conclusion that someone is tampering with top-secret, supposedly secure information in order to make sure that Haskin lands the governmental position. Rondo will stop at nothing to get the information he wants, from giving Haskin a ticket that she doesn’t deserve in order to track it through ISPI, to taking her to bed. What follows is a loosely plotted tumble down a rabbit hole of suspicion within the organization, interchangeable government officials and extraneous characters, a hunt for Rondo by amateur terrorists, spying, techno-speak, unanticipated humor and a galvanizing chase scene that ends in another country and raises more questions. The story is also sprinkled with hints of information via ISPI searches regarding the long-term effects of the nonfatal mustard gas to be used in a massive terror plot as well as excessively detailed peeks into Rondo’s relationship with his cat. While the concept of slow-moving, silent terrorism is unnerving and the intended execution of the plot to spread mustard gas seems feasible, there are several questions left at the end, even after the major threat has been extinguished.
The story presents an atypical terrorism concept, a shocking dose of humor and a handful of riveting scenes, but misses the mark by not tying up all the loose ends and introducing an unwieldy number of characters.