Scott Lucas doesn't lie, cheat, or steal when he writes, and his readers get the picture posthaste. His heroes champion honor and duty, and his villains summon maggots to the mind. His women emulate their ancestors, ignoring common fads; they're true to life - lusty, gutsy, and down to earth.
In Eastern and Western Europe's post-Cold War atmosphere, where espionage has been redefined, Lucas introduces a highly readable and realistic thriller, honed in duplicity and slashing in betrayal. Lucas' intrigues are always newly minted, and this time, with characters most intricate, he begins on the horizon, using a scalpel and hacksaw.
A Shakespearian quote, along with a personal message, is sent by one warrior to another, advocating a classic theory. It forces the younger ex-combatant into deep reflection. The lesson: The force of law must be as flexible as are those who would manipulate it.
Michael Lamb, 34, is a struggling former U.S. Naval aviator and inconsequential charter airline pilot. His carrier, which he refers to as Wingless Airlines, is stifling him. Michael and his pregnant wife Jennifer, 27, a Registered Nurse, were planning a short get-away to Munich. An unexpected meeting with an investment VIP and a gruesomely dead foreign student cloud the travel arrangements, while Michael's testy relationship with Jennifer develops into a delightful verbal parry and thrust. A former commanding officer requests that Michael do a modest but murky favor while in Munich. "It's just a small thing, but extremely important to us." (Who's us?) The retired
Admiral, now heading ARGO LTD. an international investment house based in Washington, D. C., offers to handsomely reward Michael's effort. Michael studies his options with apprehension. The deal: He must meet with a Czech graduate student who resides in Munich, make specific travel arrangements with him, and do this while discreetly interrogating the young man. Michael, more than broke, agrees to the plan, sells Jennifer on the idea, difficult in spite of the extra money, and their trip is moved up to immediate.
On their arrival in Munich, Michael and Jennifer hook up with ARGO's manager in Munich, and she helps them inaugurate their vacation. Meanwhile, unfavorable incidents complicate their assignment. Michael's meeting with the distressed student is aborted, and on follow-up Michael finds the young man dead of a drug overdose under clearly questionable circumstances. He decides to return to the scene late that night to find the roommate, or anything that will lead him further into the mushrooming puzzle. Michael tucks a note to the roommate in the filthy mirror frame, hoping for the impossible. He bails out, and phones in the find anonymously to the police.
Obstacles begin to evolve. Foreign birds of prey appear, and the number two executive from ARGO arrives in Munich, sent by the Admiral to manufacture cover and direct the ever more delicate ARGO situation.
Incredibly, Jan Cernik, the dead lad's roommate and fellow disciple, phones Michael to arrange a meet. It must wait for the following day, but each believes Jan is already being dogged by his diabolic guru, A Ben Sidi, a politically radical graduate student leader.
ARGO's manager has arranged a courtesy visit for Michael and Jennifer. They attend a Sunday afternoon garden party at a famous castle, where they join many important European industrial and economic players. They meet German businessmen Josef Moller, Baron von Arnheim, and Harold Gruber, all of whom play significant roles in the burgeoning European economy. They're also introduced to a senior official of the German FBI, Otto Baer.
The next day, at the prearranged outdoor meeting with