Dana Haynes made an indelible impression upon the readers of thrillers with CRASHERS, his debut novel, and BREAKING POINT, his equally impressive follow-up. They revolved around an airplane crash investigation team, and if that doesn’t sound exciting, I can tell you that there are passages from both books that set my heart racing just thinking about them --- and not because I’m terrified of flying, either.
"Be forewarned: you shouldn’t be reading anything by Dana Haynes without getting a good cardiovascular workup. His first two books were written as if he coined the word 'tension,' and ICE COLD KILL is no exception."
ICE COLD KILL, Haynes’s third and latest novel, takes things in a somewhat different direction. Here, he utilizes Daria Gibron, a secondary character from the previous titles, and puts her front and center. (Please note my use of the term “secondary” as opposed to “minor.”) Complex and dangerous, Daria is set up on one side and pursued on a couple of others, with agencies --- rogue and otherwise --- of no less than three different countries seeking to bring her head home on a pike. Bet on Daria, a former agent with the Shin-Bet. As the book opens, Daria has been operating in the United States on the somewhat long (to the point of being non-existent) leash of the FBI. She now is an adrenaline junkie and will be the first to admit that she is not always on the side of the angels.
So it is that when it appears that Daria is collaborating with a Syrian terrorist to assassinate the President of the United States, the powers that be, including the CIA and the Secret Service, are all too ready to believe it. However, the folks who are setting Daria up are contemplating nothing so tame. They have a much bigger plan, one that begins with a personal tragedy, continues with a mysterious explosion in the middle of nowhere, and results in the entire country being put in danger.
Meanwhile, everyone is chasing Daria, from Manhattan to Paris, beyond and back. Daria is on the run with an extremely unlikely comrade-in-arms. Together, they might save the world and themselves (not necessarily in that order) if they can avoid killing each other first. There are a couple of people in government who actually understand what is going on and are working from their respective ends to prevent a catastrophe. The clock is always ticking, not only for Daria but also for the US.
Be forewarned: you shouldn’t be reading anything by Dana Haynes without getting a good cardiovascular workup. His first two books were written as if he coined the word “tension,” and ICE COLD KILL is no exception. There is an extended scene that takes place around Grand Central Station and is worth the price of admission all by itself. At the same time, Haynes never loses his sense of humor. While not a laughfest by any means, there is a smart-edged third person narrative tone that provides some occasional comic relief once it appears that someone has survived a brush with death. Or not.
Anyone who loves thrillers should be familiar with Haynes’s work and certainly should have ICE COLD KILL on their bookshelf or eReader.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on March 29, 2013