Another fast-paced diplomatic thriller featuring State Department crisis manager Judd Ryker (Minute Zero, 2015).
A gullible businessman in London falls hard for a free-money scam and disappears. Under an influential congressman’s pressure, Judd Ryker is reassigned from an important project to find the man. Then Judd’s wife, Jessica Ryker, who heads a covert unit at the CIA in Langley, is assigned to meet and learn about the Bear, a Russian mobster and “monster” who "operates a vast criminal syndicate from St. Petersburg" that extends worldwide, dealing in everything from “vodka and toilet paper” to “heroin and whores.” Then pirates attack an oil platform off the Nigerian coast, leaving no survivors. Fascinating characters populate the pages, like the 7-foot-2-inch Nigerian NBA player Tunde Babatunde; the fearsome Queen Sheba, who is a faux contract killer and really a CIA agent; Funke Kanju, the colorful internet personality and thorn in the Nigerian government’s side; and the obligatory venal congressman. Don’t get attached to everyone, though, because many don’t survive. All the while, young Nigerians engage in romantic intercontinental email conversations, deftly duping lonely hearts into writing large checks for airfare or medical bills. It was “the art of the scam in the age of free email…shaping the pitch to catch your perfect marks.” The action moves swiftly from Langley to Lagos to Saint Petersburg, with hardly time for a quiet bowl of borscht—trouble is always boiling, danger always present. But living on the edge for the CIA is a career well suited for Judd and Jessica, because they thrive on tension and challenge. The two are smart, appealing characters readers will enjoy spending a few hours with.
Far more action than diplomacy in this page-flipping yarn. Fans of diplomatic thrillers will love this one.