Irish’s latest thriller concerns a private sector of the CIA monitoring citizens for a study on gun violence.
Former U.S. Army Col. Devlin McConnelly is on the run from Henri Edwards North America, which had employed Devlin to collect intel for a CIA study on gun control. Devlin is aware of deficiencies with the study. But the program continues to recruit, enlisting Lorabell Cardigan, a professor of behavioral science, to ensure those susceptible to gun violence are given ample opportunity to crack—for data to use in the company’s study. Irish’s (The Golden Goose of Los Angeles, 2013, etc.) novel is a riveting narrative that on occasion comes across as a short story collection since there are several self-contained subplots—a mystical priestess targets a drug cartel in Costa Rica; an American businessman endures ritual torture in a brutal ceremony; and Devlin dodges would-be assassins. The book shifts focus from Devlin, the best (and most morally sound) character, for nearly half of the narrative before he finally returns in full force—attacking a CIA facility and engaging in a blistering action sequence set at a mall. The novel’s best scenes involve Lorabell at the Observation Datacenter keeping a watch on four case studies with the potential for gun violence: a burn victim and survivor of a motorcycle collision; a man who lost his wife to cancer and his daughter to a bus accident; a Marine whose wife was raped while he was overseas; and a mentally unstable woman whose husband left her for her sister. These scenes are often cruel and memorable—CIA assets psychologically torment the widower, for instance, by aiming some of the harassment at his girlfriend and his dog. Irish leaves room for another installment in the series, but he leaves a few too many things unanswered, including any indication as to the priestess’s origins, and while a notable villain gets comeuppance, Devlin isn’t given closure. Regardless, readers will be ready for the series to continue.
A scorching tale that, despite sadistic acts inflicted on its characters, manages to be uplifting.