Filled with surprising twists and breathtaking turns, Chris Mooney's new thriller is a fast-paced and satisfying exploration of trust. The protagonist, Steve Conway, is a CIA operative who must find his way in a Machiavellian landscape where nothing is as it seems. His boss, a CIA legend named Raymond Bouchard, might also be a double agent trying to kill him. The woman he loves, CIA operative Pasha Romanov, might be his closest ally or might be working for somebody else. In a plot that is both labyrinthine and taut, Conway discovers who are his friends and who are his enemies.
Floating above the whole book is the mysterious and morally ambiguous mastermind known only as Angel Eyes. We know very little about Angel Eyes other than: (1) he is as obsessive about hygiene as Howard Hughes and (2) he has been stealing top secret, high tech weapons. Early in the novel, a revolutionary "invisibility suit" is stolen from Praxis, a company in Austin, Texas. Whoever has the suit (the CIA blames the theft on the infamous Angel Eyes) will control an unstoppable weapon. But there's one problem. The thief doesn't have the decryption password necessary to enable the "invisibility suit."
Angel Eyes, the Russian mafia, and everyone else interested in obtaining the suit thinks that Steve Conway knows the password. The problem for Conway, however, is that he doesn't know whom to trust. In one of the central moments of the book, one of Conway's best friends, John Riley, is murdered. The crime has been witnessed, via web camera, by Riley's girlfriend. Conway travels to Boston for his friend's funeral and ends up meeting both Riley's girlfriend and Angel Eyes. Riley's girlfriend has a tape of the murder, but she's kidnapped before she can give it to him --- and Angel Eyes tells Conway not to trust his boss Bouchard.
Conway's world is turned upside down --- he finds himself in a moral twilight zone, with all his past certainties about the "good guys and the bad guys" shattered. And he begins to learn a hard lesson: that he can trust no one, except his oldest friend Booker.
Mooney has a talent for writing action-filled prose. There's a scene that takes place in the shark tank of Boston's New England Aquarium that is absolutely unforgettable for its vividness and heart-stopping action. Mooney is also adept at writing about futuristic, cutting edge technology. After reading this book, you may never look at a Palm Pilot in quite the same way. Mooney's suspenseful narrative will keep you turning page after page until the book's breathless conclusion. If you like thrillers, you won't be disappointed by Mooney's skilled performance.
Reviewed by Chuck Leddy on October 30, 2001