The Dark Clouds Shining
Jack McColl Series #4
Soho Crime, April 2018
With this, the fourth Jack McColl spy story, David Downing concludes the series. It takes place just as the civil war in Soviet Russia is ending and developments are dire with respect to the original high hopes that accompanied the Revolution, and the nation suffers from all kinds of shortages, especially food for a starving populace. Jack is not faring any better, languishing in jail for assaulting a Bobby, when his Secret Service boss visits him and presents Jack with a way to get out if he accepts an unofficial assignment. Jack is disillusioned by the slaughter of so many in the Great War and can’t abide spying for his country any more, but accepts the assignment to get out of jail. So he goes to Russia to learn what other British spies are planning at the behest of MI5. And unknown to him, he will again meet with the love of his life, Caitlin, who is now married to one of the men involved in the MI5 scheme which Jack was sent to investigate and possibly foil.
The author’s ability to recreate the environment of the historical period, along with descriptions of the economic and political atmosphere, is outstanding, as is the recounting of the action resulting from the hunt by both Jack and the Cheka, the Russian secret service and forerunner of the GPU, for the plotters. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Ted Feit, April 2018.
The Cutting Edge
A Lincoln Rhyme Novel #14
Grand Central Publishing, April 2018
What starts off as a murder mystery turns into a multi-faceted conspiracy in the latest Lincoln Rhyme novel. It begins with the murder of a prominent diamond cutter in the heart of New York’s jewelry district on 47th Street, although the murderer apparently left behind a small fortune in gems, so the motive remains obscure. A young apprentice walks in during the murder and is shot at but is saved when the bullet hits a bag filled with rocks instead.
Subsequent murders take place, ostensibly by a psycho who is out to save diamonds from being defaced as engagement rings and who trails young couples in the act of making purchases and killing them. Meanwhile Rhyme and Amelia Sachs are analyzing the few clues available and seeking to locate the apprentice, who is hiding from view. Then a series of explosions take place, believed to be earthquakes in the heart of Brooklyn.
And as a sidelight, Rhyme agrees for the first time to assist a defendant, a murderous Mexican drug lord on trial in Federal court for illegal entry and murder, by reviewing the evidence in the hope of establishing an error. This gives the author another chance to fool the reader with another twist.
Of course, the whole plot is premised on Mr. Deaver’s ability to surprise readers by leading them down a path only to divert them finally by revealing something else in the end. The series is long- standing and always diverting, especially when forensics are analyzed and explained.
Reviewed by Ted Feit, May 2018.