An American spy stumbles on a powerful organization’s secret terrorist plot in this fourth installment of a series.
John Wolfe is about to retire from the Agency, “one of the last master spies.” But on the day his farewell party is scheduled, he notices he’s being followed, and then learns a good friend and fellow agent, Jimmy Trang, is dead. Trang’s death is ruled a suicide with suspicious alacrity. In addition, John discovers his boss, T.S. Sprout—as evil as he is incompetent—is involved in a conspiracy to sell secrets to China. Sprout is in cahoots with a clandestine group that calls itself the Order of the Golden Squirrel, whose influence is so formidable it can “control, or at least strongly influence, every major country.” John encounters the beautiful and mysterious Mary Killigrew—it’s not clear for whom she works—who claims to have a list of the Order’s original members, and he’s inexorably drawn into investigating their treasonous plans. Branam (Nemesis Syndrome, 2016, etc.) continues his Wolfe Adventure Novel series, reprising a familiar cast. But unlike its predecessors, this installment gives the lead role not to FBI agent Thomas Wolfe, but his older brother, John. Thomas, “the most dangerous warrior on the planet,” is still in the mix to lend John a helping hand, as is the FBI agent’s wife, Terry. John is recruited to join the Order, but he’s dedicated to exposing its scheme to catastrophically harm the United States. The author generously packs the story with action—there’s no shortage of shootouts and fistfights—as well as romantic intrigue. But the plot feels like a self-parodying cartoon: superspies fighting supervillains with names like The Major and The Russian. The tale is also so complicated, the protagonist—the fictional conceit is that the narrator, John, is the writer of the book soon to be pulled from the shelves for disclosing state secrets—apologetically points it out: “Note: my editor tells me that I’m throwing too much technical detail at the readers and I will lose most of you.”
An intense but confusing and melodramatic espionage tale.