David Rich—whose acclaimed debut, Caravan of Thieves, drew comparisons to Elmore Leonard, Robert Ludlum, and John le Carré—returns with a crime thriller featuring Lieutenant Rollie Waters.
Recruited into SHADE, the elite, covert group formed by the U.S. military, Rollie Waters must locate and retrieve the countless millions taken from Saddam’s cache during the Iraq War and shipped home in the coffins of dead soldiers. But when a sniper attacks the team, Rollie is forced to go undercover to solve the riddle of the graves and to apprehend the puppet master behind the whole plot.
Rollie’s own father, inveterate liar and charming con artist Dan Waters, was killed attempting to steal the first $25 million after stumbling across the conspiracy involving powerful military officers, would-be kings, and the very general who nearly destroyed Rollie during his last tour in Afghanistan.
Rollie’s undercover quest takes him from Houston and the self-proclaimed king of Kurdistan, to the treacherous, labyrinthine streets of Erbil, Iraq, and into the arms of a stunning, enigmatic woman whose motives he can’t discern. As a confirmed citizen of the fog, now more spy than soldier, Waters must uncover the man pulling the strings behind a backdrop of murder, deceit, and stolen fortune—before he disappears forever into the mist.
An elite covert group known as SHADE (Shared Defense Executive), which was set up by the U.S. military, recruits Marine Lt. Rollie Waters in Rich’s disjointed sequel to 2012’s Caravan of Thieves. As part of a mission to determine which graves of American soldiers contain cash taken from Saddam Hussein’s cache during the second Iraq War and who’s behind the scheme, Rollie assumes the identity of a wealthy investment banker, Robert Hewitt. The assignment takes Rollie from Houston to Erbil, Iraq, and tangles him in a net of betrayal, including a kidnapping plot involving the daughter of the self-proclaimed king of Kurdistan. Rollie’s frequent flashbacks to his childhood and his time fighting in Afghanistan drag down the plot, as do his imagined conversations with his dead father, Dan Waters—a con man killed because he was suspected of trying to steal the same cache of millions that Rollie seeks. Not even a surprise action-packed ending elevates this muddled adventure. Agent: Kimberly Witherspoon, Inkwell management. (Aug.)
Rollie Waters is an Afghan war and ex-special forces vet now working for SHADE, a top-secret military agency. He is searching for millions of dollars of Saddam's stolen cash that was sent to the United States in body bags, but he is not sure which graves to dig up. Nor is he the only one looking. When two members of his unit are shot by a sniper, Waters heads to the Middle East in search of the mastermind behind the scheme. With his self-described "instinct to be contrary," Waters survives beatings, assassination attempts, and a mysterious woman whose father claims to be king of Kurdistan. VERDICT Following the money trail described in Rich's debut thriller Caravan of Thieves, Waters is a killer who has a moral side as well. He converses with his dead father, wisecracks with Kurds in their own language, and rarely has a peaceful moment. Rich's screenwriting talents make this all plausible as we follow a labyrinth of violence, deceit, and villainy in which the good guy wins, but the bad guy may reappear later. Lots of fun.—Roland Person, formerly with Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale
USMC Lt. Rollie Waters remains mired in the misdeeds of a greedy and ghoulish cabal in Rich's (Caravan of Thieves, 2012) second action-adventure novel. As the saga begins, the crime uncovered in Thieves is the same but exacerbated. Waters' con-man father, Dan, had uncovered a conspiracy that looted millions of Saddam's dollars after the invasion of Iraq, all supposedly shipped home in caskets of troops killed in action. Dan was murdered by the conspirators, but Waters got revenge. That involvement brought combat veteran Waters to the attention of mysterious Maj. Hensel of SHADE (Shared Defense Executive), an uber-secret spinoff of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Hensel suspects the purloined money is to finance a conspiracy to control Kurd oil resources. Waters, SHADE-assigned to exhume graves to unearth the millions, becomes an assassin's target. The shooting brings Waters' investigation unwelcome FBI attention, and so Henley dresses Waters up as Robert Hewitt, oil speculator, and dispatches him to Houston to meet the self-styled king of Kurdistan. The action moves from Houston to Erbil, Iraq's Kurd stronghold. Waters is pursuing a one-eyed Welshman named Bannion who has supposedly kidnapped Maya, his own ex-wife and the king's daughter. Rich is a film writer, with a firm grip on pacing, always ready to stop and flesh out characters and then to pull a knife and draw a little blood. Waters is the perfect edgy, flawed hero--"loaded up five cylinders for Russian roulette with chivalry, gallantry, righteousness, sincerity and plain old lust"--and Rich's supporting cast is solid. Bannion is Machiavellian evil. Gill, supposedly Bannion's silent muscle, is three layers deep. Pushing credibility is Ethan Williams, a purported hippie drug dealer Waters once rescued in Afghanistan and who is now in Bannion's employ. The adventure unreels in first person from Waters' point of view, and Rich uses a nifty narrative device--Waters' interior dialogue with his dead con-man father--to flesh out the now-you-see-it, now-you-don't machinations of the bad guys. Above-average action-adventure with a touch of noir. This one is good fun.