By an ex-commando about an ex-commando, the fourth persuasive entry (Firewall, 2001, etc.) in the secret agent Nick Stone series. That Nick Stone is McNab in disguise is a conclusion difficult to avoid. Not that you'd want to avoid it, since authenticity in this kind of novel is what makes the heart thud faster. Still, Nick-unlike his much-decorated creator-does have a history of screw-ups, or at least such is the view of his often-irritated employers. As far as the Firm is concerned, his latest mission is a case in point. The routine assassination gig failed because insubordinate Nick suddenly wouldn't pull the trigger-when he discovered that his target happened to be a kid. Behavior never to be tolerated. His job was not to reason why but to blast away at those his bosses have decided are inimical to Britain's well-being. But Nick will be granted a last chance to redeem himself: a crack at the same target now returned to his native Panama in company with his dad, a wily and enterprising thug much too close to the worrisome Chinese. At issue is a high-tech missile system named Sunburn, which the Brits covet and the Chinese control, at least for now. But if Nick can make his kill, the Brits, given the labyrinthine way these things work, will gain their ends. But if he disappoints again, Nick is warned, the consequences will be dire indeed-to his own adopted 13-year-old daughter. Between good guys and bad, the line grows ever blurrier. No matter. Nick, hardened and embittered, has long since left such distinctions behind. He cares only about his guys, and so this time, it's clear, there's to be no backing off. Nonstop warrior Nick, with each of his engagements meticulously detailed. Alittle less of a very good thing, truth be told, might have benefited narrative flow.