It has been entirely too long since a new novel from Mark T. Sullivan has graced the bookshelves. The newly published TRIPLE CROSS proves that the wait was well worth it. Whatever he has been doing since the release of THE SERPENT’S KISS in 2003, it has not affected his writing craftsmanship. His latest effort is a page turner of the first order, a tale that will get the blood pumping and keep it that way.
If one were to do a movie pitch for TRIPLE CROSS, it would be along the lines of “Die Hard at a ski resort,” though such a short description only begins to tell the tale. The world’s richest men --- and we’re talking about the rankings from Number One on down --- gather at the Jefferson Club, an ultra-exclusive ski resort in Montana for a New Year’s party that none of them will ever forget. At the stroke of midnight, a small, highly-trained army invades the resort, holds the captives hostage, and begins a series of kangaroo courts that are broadcast over the Internet and then via cable television news networks, trying each of the captains of industry for crimes against the planet. The mastermind behind these activities is the enigmatic General Anarchy, a military strategist and self-identified anti-globalist who is possessed of an encyclopedic knowledge concerning the people he has held hostage. Having commanded the perimeter of the Jefferson Club, which in turn is buried in a raging snowstorm, Anarchy appears to be able to wreak vengeance on his captives at will.
There are some wild cards in the mix, however. Michael “Mickey” Hennessy, the vice-president of security at the Jefferson Club, has managed to escape, though he is grievously wounded. Hennessy is both a blessing and a curse to the FBI agents who have responded to the attack. A former member of the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service, Hennessy is known to the public at large as a hero for having previously saved the life of the U.S. Secretary of State. The problem, though, is that Hennessy’s children, a set of 14-year-old triplets, were visiting him at the resort over the New Year’s holiday and are still trapped there.
But they do have one advantage: their father trained them in his tradecraft, so they are hardly helpless. In fact, they may be more capable of turning the tide than anyone, including Hennessy, can anticipate. Even as the FBI plans a desperate hostage rescue attempt, General Anarchy continues his sinister execution of his hostages, with a goal that extends far beyond his stated aims and far beyond the walls of the Jefferson Club.
Mark T. Sullivan is at his very best here, nicely balancing the action on the inside of the Jefferson Club with the anxiety on the outside, and making the Hennessy children just capable enough to be believable. There is an element of the old and beloved Hardy Boys series at play here as well, given that the young Hennessys not only help to tip the balance of power on top of the terrorists, but also provide a valuable clue as to the identity of General Anarchy. Toss in elements of Sullivan’s own considerable knowledge of all things concerning skiing, and a quick lesson in what comes into play with security fences, and you have one of the year’s best reads thus far. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait too long for Sullivan’s next novel.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011