The opening of this book is so confusing that I had to keep flipping back, trying to figure out who the two people were. Once past the first few pages, until halfway through the book, there is good, strong plotting that moves along at a nice pace. As well, in backflash, there's a fine depiction of the childhood friendship of the two men that allows the reader to be saddened by the death of Meechum Keefe. Then, too soon, the "protagonist" is introduced. And while Szeska is, initially, a very interesting character, he gradually becomes a caricature of himself. The ensuing cat and mouse game has moments of interest, but what the author structured at the outset gets watered down (literally) in a damp conclusion that's not particularly suspenseful or satisfying. The one female character, again, starts out interesting: feisty and combative, but winds up as little more than a sexual vehicle; an annoying female who won't listen to what she's told, who shows up where she's not wanted and puts herself in danger. As if. Given her intelligence at the outset, it's close to impossible to accept the moves she makes. In other words, more than once the author moves people out of character.
There's w-a-y too much about Conrad Voort's genitaliaÑas if its state is indicative of the hero's emotional stateÑleading the reader to believe that Conrad doesn't know the difference between sexual attraction and caring. So when the romance part of the plot doesn't work out, it's not in the least surprising because, all along, it's been about Conrad's state of arousal or non-arousal. The story line would have been better served if the author had focused on the hero's emotions, rather than his body parts. Certainly, Black gets points for dealing with the issue of terrorism and about how vulnerable everyone and everything is. Given that the release of this book predates 9/11, it has a certain prophetic aspect that makes the subject matter particularly interesting.
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