- Hardcover: 373 pages
- Publisher: Harpercollins (May 1 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060179562
- ISBN-13: 978-0060179564
- Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 3.8 x 24.8 cm
- Shipping Weight: 862 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,248,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
A Wild Justice: A Novel Hardcover – May 1 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
Combining Russian detectives, Iranian spies, Vietnamese drug smugglers and a grief-stricken American hero, Thomas (Firefox) comes up a winner with his 13th novel. With his usual clarity and energy, he sets two plot lines in motion in the opening scenes: in Russia, local police discover the corpse of an American employee of Grainger-Turgenev, a joint venture in Siberia; in America, Billy Grainger of Grainger Technologies and his wife, Beth, are murdered in their home. Although the American deaths look like the work of robbers, Beth's grieving brother, ex-CIA agent John Lock, soon discovers that Grainger's profits, and Billy's lifestyle, are due to a heroin-smuggling ring that dates back to Billy's service as a CIA agent in Vietnam. Back in Russia, the local cops doggedly uncover evidence that Grainger-Turgenev is involved in a unique kind of drug-smuggling operation. As the Russian cops stir up enough waves to make themselves the target of retaliation by the smugglers and their allies in the Russian intelligence services, Lock must survive long enough to journey to Siberia, join forces with the police and avenge the death of his sister. Readers may be way ahead of Lock in figuring out the identity of the chief villain, but this lapse is more than made up for by Thomas's skill in mixing the grittiness of a police procedural with the high-concept tension of a spy thriller, and by the novel's exciting final third, a brilliantly executed chase sequence set in a Siberian blizzard.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Except to the white hats who track the black hat in this post^-cold war spy story, the identity of the malevolent genius is clear. He is ruthless ex-KGB officer Turgenev, who stifles inquiries into his lucrative scam--trading Russian nuclear technicians for Iranian heroin--with gunfire and booby-trap bombs. The murderous action begins in the Siberian natural-gas town of Novyy Urengoy, where an American executive in Turgenev's front company is found dead. The same happens to another exec in America, but the assassins botch the job by mistakenly taking out the sister of ex-CIA officer John Lock, who becomes enraged. Turned vengeful angel, Lock pursues Turgenev and eludes his agents; his luck holds all the way to Novyy Urengoy, where in the meantime and independently, an incorruptible Russian detective has been dodging bullets in his investigation of the first murder. Stronger as action than as suspense, this should engage readers of the author's Playing with Cobras (1993). Gilbert Taylor
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But of course he's not KGB any more since the Soviet Union is no more in this book. An executive of an American company is found murdered in the Siberian town of Novyy Urengoy and Vorontsyev and his team must get to the bottom of what the company is up to, discovering links to the Russian mafia along the way. Meanwhile in America, ex-CIA agent John Lock finds his sister and brother-in-law murdered in their home. Apparently the brother-in-law had connections with the same company whose executive was murdered in Siberia. Lock is determined to get to the truth of his sister's murder and his poking around doesn't make things better for him in the states. He gets enough information to know that his answers lay in Siberia, where he'll have to team up with Vorontsyev and his team to stop the wrong doings that lead to Vietnamese drug smugglers.
It all sounds like a great story for a Craig novel, but something just didn't add up. I'm not sure what, though. I guess I'm just a big fan of oppositre sides of governments as Craig's characters and politics as the plots rather than heroes fighting multi-million dollar corporations. But it's still definately worth a look if you're a fan of Craig's other books. Not bad for a Craig fix.
THE PLOT: Assassins murder the sister of John Lock, an ex-CIA officer. Lock soon learns that the plot was actually aimed at his rich brother in-law, the corporate head of a company doing business in post-Soviet Siberia. Unbeknownst to him, an executive of the company has already been found murdered in the remote Siberian town of Novy Urengoy, triggering an investigation by the local intel services. Independently, both Lock and the Russian chief Vorontsyev link crimes to Turgenev, who heads the Russian end of the company combining with Lock's in-law, and both make the mistake of alerting their target. While Vorontsyev struggles to keep his officers alive, Lock evades various attempts to kill him while he travels to Novy Urengoy. When the two link up, they consider various underpinnings of Turgenev's plan - smuggled drugs or weapons - eventually hitting on a much darker conspiracy.
THE PROBLEMS: Craig Thomas's writing is normally opaque, but that give's his plots greater depth. Unfortunately. The simple plot of "Justice" just seems undefined - we learn quickly who the bad guy is, and that he must be stopped. While the plot hints at the more earthshaking aspects of Turgenev's plans, it never makes them clear enough to be scary. The plot itself doesn't offer much tension because there is no sense of a deadline that must be made (like, stop Turgenev before the Russian Army arrives, or before a laser sattelite targets the space shuttle). Also, Turgenev remains undefined because he's never given any real henchmen or colleagues like the tag-teams of other Thomas novels (Like Babbington and Winterbach of "Lion's Run"; Serov and Rodin of "Winterhawk"; or Kontarsky and his Soviet bosses in "Firefox"). Lock remains an enigma himself, without that checkered past of characters like Priabin and Mitch Gant. While the plot isn't up to Thomas's previous standards, his belief-suspending plot-twists, unfortunately, are true to form. Are we supposed to believe that Lock, already on the run at home, will risk going to Siberia alone? While most Thomas books rely on recurring characters - Aubrey, Hyde and Priabin - "Justice" brings back only one character: the heroically defiant Vorontsyev who single-handedly halted a Red Army coup in the superior "Snow Falcon", but doesn't hint at his tenacity in this later book.
STILL: "Justice" offers a tight plot, likeable characters and Thomas's trademark prose. Given that Thomas hasn't been writing as many novels these, we'll take what we can get, even a novel that seems only exceedingly superior to anything else being written, as opposed to his usual obscenely-better-than standard. In short, a must for Craig Thomas fans.
Perhaps I chanced to pick up the worst of the lot as my introduction to Thomas' novels. In any event, I'm not tempted to explore further.