Caplan’s (Line of Chance, 1979, etc.) adventure novel shoots for high concept by assigning hero duties to a soldier turned film star turned spy.
Ty Hunter is an accidental actor who made it big in Tinseltown. He was a special-ops–tested military intelligence officer recovering from injuries when he met a film producer. But Caplan doesn't rush Hunter into play. First there’s a stop in Kansas City to meet Wilhelm Claussen, owner of an international construction company. Claussen’s ready to back out of a deal with a Russian group. The scene shifts to a missile installation near Russia’s Sea of Azov where warheads are being removed. Next it's the Cannes film festival. There Ty enters the narrative and encounters Ian Santal, once a science guru, once a money manipulator, and now a billionaire financier. Also on the scene are Santal's protege, Philip Frost, part of the official nuclear-weapons watchdog team at Azoz, and Isabella Cavill, celebrated jewelry designer, Santal's goddaughter and the novel’s requisite love interest. Ty is next called to Camp David to meet the president and his top security adviser. They enlist Hunter to go undercover. Rumors are circulating that Santal has nefarious contacts. It develops that Santal’s megalomaniacal idea is to assure peace by reframing the balance of nuclear power—while earning a tidy profit. Ty’s mission-almost-impossible is to discover if Santal threat is real. Caplan litters the pages with exotic locations, beautiful people and more than enough scene-setting, exposition, sparkling conversation and back story to present a tutorial on the lives of the mega-rich. The denouement comes at Gibraltar, where good guys and bad guys meet aboard Santal's yacht, Surpass. That’s a fitting moniker, since everything within the story involves stratospheric superlatives—"sleek furnishings," "most amazing stones," "great eclectic mansion," "far too sophisticated." Characters are stock players, including Middle Easterners with disposable billions, a quartet of computer nerds and a bad guy escaping to plague Hunter in Caplan's next Bondian escapade.
An adventure where atmosphere dominates action.