I have an acquaintance who does for a living what I would best describe as Important Work for the government. I don't get to talk with him/her as often as I would like, but our converstaions are always informative and entertaining when we do get together. My friend's Important Work has to do with Defensive Intelligence, and while my friend really can't discuss the work, he/she can speak with enough glittering generalities to enable one to connect the dots of what he/she talking about.
The Important Work is not something you'll read about in the newspapers, because it's not very sexy or exciting; it basically involves the cyberspace equivalent of moving great piles of information from Point A to Point B and back again, sifting for important little golden nuggets of information, like who has been making clusters of phone calls, and why, and to whom. No explosions, no karate, just a lot of stuff that gets played out quietly and is never written or even spoken about. The end players, the guys who do the dirty heavy lifting in this stuff, don't get headlines, don't get book deals, and don't have television docudramas made about them. They just do their jobs.
The subjects of Marcus Wynne's novels have been two such guys. NO OTHER OPTION introduced Dale Miller, an ex-Army special ops expert, while WARRIOR IN THE SHADOWS featured Charlie Payne, a former CIA operative. Wynne could have strung both characters out over the course of two separate series of novels for years before doing what he did in BROTHERS IN ARMS, his third novel, which brings Miller and Payne together. While the men have different styles --- Payne is the cautious veteran while Miller is the occasionally impatient and younger upstart --- they share an equal level of competence.
Payne and Miller are brought together quite suddenly and dramatically when they both accidentally stumble into an assassination attempt performed by The Twins, a quietly exotic team of assassins who themselves are almost killed by Payne and Miller. The Twins' target is a mental patient whose mind has been ruined by torture, a mind that contains information regarding a terrorist plot that the patient can only reference, repeatedly and cryptically, as "sad holiday."
Miller and Payne are recruited by Dominance Rain, a secret operation used only for the most critical missions. Their job it to protect the patient, whose mental state becomes more fragile with each passing day. Wynne's portrayal of Miler and Payne is convincing ---they work well, but not entirely perfectly, with each other --- and his villains of the piece are extremely intriguing. Wynne keeps the action hopping back and forth between Amsterdam and the Washington, D. C. area, slowly drawing his characters together as they converge around an enigmatic, lonely young man who has been selected as the instrumentality of deliverance for a terrible and devastating weapon that is intended to strike at the very heart of the United States government.
BROTHERS IN ARMS keeps the reader guessing and reading right up to the last page. Wynne is not afraid to take chances, and while there is a definite ending to this fine novel, there are just enough secondary threads left dangling that his next novel should be eagerly anticipated. Fans of Tom Clancy, Stephen Coonts and espionage thrillers in general will want to make room for BROTHERS IN ARMS on their bookshelves.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on February 21, 2004