Due to delays at the airport on my recent trip, I had to buy a second book when I finished The Rembrandt Affair. I picked this one up in the airport, mainly because the cover touted the protagonist as a great new American thriller hero. After Gabriel Allon, I was in the mood for another Alpha male hero to keep me occupied while flying the unfriendly skies.
It was an engaging story, although I was much more intrigued by the female protagonist, Kate Bannon, than by Steven Vail. For one thing, Vail is way too needy for a true thriller protagonist. Kate is much more interesting and three-dimensional character than Vail. (I found it interesting that a male writer could write such a strong female character who can hold her own against Vail's brilliance.)
I'm a little tired of Russian spies as the bad guys (the Cold War is over after all), but these Russians (with their Lithuanian toadies) are very evil. There's plenty of action (including blood and gore) to keep the tension high and the story moving. The sexual tension between Bannon and Vail is fun, but not as believable as it could be. The zippy dialogue that is touted in the blurbs mostly annoyed me. I find it hard to believe that professional FBI agents would engage in titillating innuendo in the middle of a counterespionage investigation, with lives on the line.
It was an engaging read, but totally unmemorable. I'm not sure I'd read anything else by this author.
As a former agent, he knows his way around investigative techniques, but his characters aren't as well drawn or as engaging as I would like. Maybe on another day, in another mood and NOT immediately after finishing a truly wonderful thriller, I'd feel differently, but this one fell flat for me.