As a member of the British House of Lords and as former member of Parliament, Jeffrey Archer knows some of the most powerful people in the world. Indeed, the acknowledgements of this closely plotted thriller include current and former members of the American CIA, FBI, NSA, Secret Service, and a former U.S. attorney general. From this background, Archer weaves a tale that follows his hero, CIA assassin Connor Fitzgerald, while simultaneously shadowing his bosses in Washington.
The opening chapters feature unrelenting action as Connor tracks and kills a Colombian presidential candidate and starts a chain of events that could lead to a new Cold War. But, despite his ruthless background, Connor is not a cold and hollow plot device. He's an American Medal of Honor winner who is committed to his country, but also to his spiritual home, Ireland. Archer even pauses briefly to flesh out Connor's family life and the tensions of living with secrets that his wife and beloved daughter suspect but will never know. This character work pays off as the reader follows Connor through several nations and nearly as many identities. Gradually, Connor is caught in Russia between two power brokers: CIA director Helen Dexter and President Tom Lawrence. Dexter needs her 28-year veteran agent dead or "disappeared" in a Russian prison. But President Lawrence also needs Connor so he can finally rid himself of Dexter's tacit control of U.S. foreign policy.
In the end, Connor must rely on old friends and native intelligence if he is to make it to his retirement alive. Fans of political intrigue, James Bond, and Tom Clancy will be drawn inexorably along for the ride. --Patrick O'Kelley
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From Publishers Weekly
From the first line, former British M.P. Archer (The Fourth Estate, etc.) navigates a nonstop, rocketing ride. Middle-aged Connor Fitzgerald is a happily married man, decorated veteran and devoted father; he's also an "NOC," a "non-official cover officer" for the CIA specializing in assassinations. The killing of a Colombian drug lord leaves Connor out of sync with the Democratic president's policy, so the director of the CIA, a woman, sets Connor up to take the fall in a fake assassination of the leading candidate for the Russian presidency, an unreconstructed Stalinist. Connor (aided by an ex-CIA deputy director whose life he once saved) gets out of a St. Petersburg jail and falls into the hands of the Russian Mafia. Wheels spin within wheels until the slam-bang climax during the new Russian president's visit to Washington. Some plot details, including the final twist, are a tad hokey, and Connor keeps his much-touted charisma under wraps, yet Archer sweeps us along (and even finds time to write himself into the plot as London's mayor, a position he's seeking in real life). The only boo-boo here is Archer's unwitting revivification of flamboyant Redskins owner and Northern Virginia tycoon Jack Kent Cooke (though he was a character). In any case, readers won't mind the occasional giddiness: this isn't Tolstoy, it's fun. Simultaneous Harper audio.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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