A Reluctant White Knight
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In this highflying thriller, a graying hero jets between special ops and corporate meetings.

Having married his pistol-packing, plane-piloting soul mate, Sunny, Tom Rowter gets lured out of retirement by his former CIA overlord for a covert mission in Belize that requires fancy flying under enemy fire. After a short, mildly intriguing adventure, that’s all squared away. Next, Tom heads elsewhere to clean up the troubled pipeline division of his father-in-law’s company, which is leaking oil and red ink. Tom duly fires the entire staff and makes them beg to get their jobs back, but that havoc subsides in a welter of cordial re-interviews, HR evaluations, pep talks and modest employee incentives. Tom puts out another corporate brush fire when he negotiates a pumping station lease extension from Navajo elders in exchange for a new school on their reservation. In his time off, he lavishly dotes on Sunny, has heart-to-hearts with his kids, goes shopping and hangs out. In this second installment of his Reluctant White Knight series, Anderson’s strategy of mixing syrupy romance with paramilitary procedural feels even more unconvincing and dissonant. Tom and Sunny’s nuptials are a mix of gauzy sentimentality and guns-at-the-ready security protocols, as the Secret Service mobilizes to bring a George W. Bush stand-in to the festivities. What really cements their union—and stalls the narrative—is their shared love of flying their private planes around the country the way other people drive to the store for milk. Anderson, a professional pilot, clearly loves to fly, and his aviation scenes are well-observed; but there are so many of them and they are so full of meticulously described nonevents that they weigh the story down. The few action scenes that surface are either minor—Tom waves his gun at some noisy college kids—or overblown, as when he calls in CIA spy satellites to locate a couple of teen runaways. The moments of ruckus hardly make up for the long stretches of mundane business wranglings and in-flight cruising.

A sluggish adventure that taxis but never takes off.

Pub Date: May 27th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1469959535
Page count: 372pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
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