TRADER OF SECRETS is a contemporary thriller that places all of the regulars from Steve Martini's series in danger. After stopping two attempts to bomb facilities in the United States, Paul Madriani, daughter Sarah, long-time love interest Joselyn Cole, partner Harry Hinds and investigator Herman Diggs are under the aegis of the FBI. They are the targets of the man called "Liquida," a Mexican assassin who considers all of them a priority kill. As a matter of fact, Liquida found Herman, and his attack almost left him dead. But the book is more complicated than that.
The other subplot is that of two NASA scientists who are missing from their mission. Between them, they are in possession of secrets known to a hostile government that would do anything to get their hands on the material hidden by the scientists. Their secrets could end the world in ways never dreamed of before.
Madriani and company head off to Europe, Thailand, Paris, Washington D.C. and anywhere else they think they have a lead on Liquida or the missing young scientists.
Meanwhile, Sarah has been shipped off to relatives who own a rural farm because her father thought she would be safe there. Her aunt and uncle breed, raise and train Dobermans. Who would dare infiltrate their property with so many dogs of that kind around? Once he tracks her down, Liquida goes after her while she is out on a secret run early through the property that comprises the farm. The Mexican takes aim and shoots to kill her, and if not for a tin water bottle, Sarah would be dead.
To keep her safer, she is sent to a condominium unit that is guarded by the FBI. There she meets a young agent whom readers will find a little creepy. He too moves in and ends up down the hall from Sarah's apartment. He begins to woo her.
TRADER OF SECRETS is a fast-paced international thriller with a heart. The close relationships between the characters and the believability of their interchanges make for sharp scenes with strong dialogue. Readers will find the pages flying by, and the twisted road the crew must follow to the end leaves enough space for suspense and tension. An almost fatal confrontation occurs before all of the "good guys" manage to "save the world" from the "trader of secrets."
In an interesting post, Steve Martini writes: "My earliest experiments with the written word were limited to feeble attempts at poetry in grade school. Story telling did not come to me until later, though when young and foolish I told some whoppers to my father. Writing lies for a living did not occur to me until much later, when I was in my early forties. This followed a brief career as a journalist wherein I attempted to tell the truth but was not always successful, followed by a period practicing law in which knowing the truth was often a disability. In short, I was severely handicapped and overcame great odds to become a storyteller and crafter of creditable fables. What I remember, however, is that during that hazy period between journalism and the law, that confusing transition between searching for the truth and shading my eyes from it, I stumbled across a couple of books that left a marked impression on me. And the word 'couple' is precisely right, for I did not have much time during this period to read fiction."
Martini was obviously pleased and surprised when he found himself on bestseller lists, gathering a legion of faithful fans who are sure to find TRADER OF SECRETS a perfect summer read.
Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum on June 27, 2011