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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
The Budapest Connection, the first novel by world-renowned forensic investigator Henry Lee (coauthored with Jerry Labriola), revolves around an elite team of internationally recognized forensic scientists and law enforcement specialists known as GIFT (Global Interactive Forensics Team). Comprising five members -- Henry Liu, one of the world's foremost criminalists; George Silvain and Karl Moser, forensic pathologists from New Jersey and Germany, respectively; Gail Merriday from London's Scotland Yard; and Jay Palmer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police -- the privately funded coalition operate like superheroes, utilizing a private jet to whisk them around the globe solving high-priority crimes and deciphering seemingly unsolvable cold cases. But when three murdered young women are found arranged in a triangle on a Brooklyn pier -- all shot in the left temple with one eye open and the other glued shut -- the members of GIFT are faced with a multilayered mystery involving white slavery that will lead them from the vineyards of the Finger Lakes region of New York to the backstreets of Eastern European cities and will make them targets of the Mafia, numerous Chinese criminal syndicates, and even a Romanian crime lord who is allegedly a descendent of Dracula!
While hordes of CSI fans will undoubtedly enjoy Lee's ambitious fiction debut, The Budapest Connection is far from a perfect novel. With the main protagonist, Liu, an obvious fictional version of Lee himself, numerous sequences become disturbingly self-indulgent -- especially the frequent (and thematically pointless) scenes involving a much younger Merriday practically throwing herself at the 58-year-old Liu. And while the conclusion of this novel is adequate, it lacks the bombshell ending that would've left readers undoubtedly salivating for more adventures involving GIFT. Paul Goat Allen