Crisis Four (Nick Stone #2)

Nick Stone could never figure out Sarah Greenwood. In October 1995, they had worked on a Special Operations assignment in Syria together.  During the mission, Sarah, an Intelligence Group officer, had insisted on interviewing a Bin Laden man (aka the source)  on the ground and keying in some data into her laptop, instead of simply kidnapping him and questioning him later. She had also shot the source when alone with him, alleging that he had attacked her. Later, she seemed eager to escape when Glen, Nick’s buddy, had been shot rather than help Glen. During the extraction, she was more concerned about saving the laptop from dying instead of Glen surviving. Part of the responsibility of Glen and the source’s death, it seemed, hung on Sarah Greenwood as she had delayed the rest of the team at various points.

Three years later, Nick is out of the Special Forces, and trying to spend some quiet time with his friend Josh and their adopted daughter Kelly.  He’s scheduled to take Kelly for a tour of the Tower of London. Just then, a secret government agency called the Firm   pages him. Because of his experience working and a secret(not) relationship with Sarah, the Firm thinks he might be able to trace Sarah, who has gone AWOL. Nick flies off to the American continent, channels his inner-Sherlock and finally traces Sarah in a hidden log cabin at Little Lick Creek, Falls Lake in North Carolina.

When he relays the news back to base that Sarah has been spotted with Middle-Eastern men in the cabin, Nick is given the order to kill Sarah  and leave behind no trace. Nick’s problem is that he is armed with only a short-bow and arrows as even a crossbow requires a North Carolina ID. So he peels off his clothes, trods through the lake and invades the log cabin dressed like cupid. When he takes her out of the house, Sarah tells him that she was working undercover to take down a Middle-Eastern gang  trying to murder Netanyahu and Yaseer Arafat and derail the Israel-Palestine peace talks. She says she’s doing all this on her own, because she isn’t  sure who to trust in London. She alleges that due to the distrust factor, she had been working silently on her reports on her laptop and not conveying certain data back.


Sorry, Nick Stone couldn’t come for the meeting

So now Nick has a new plan. He and Sarah must operate together but disconnected from London’s help, while being chased around the jungle by the police and their dogs.  They must reach Washington DC and get into the White House to stop the assassination from taking place.

Nick appears very vulnerable, though very competent, throughout the book. It appears that he surmounts his challenges not because he’s some kind of superman, but because he is a motivated, careful, meticulous, skilled, well-trained veteran. There is a good mix of  adventure in this book. There’s skydiving, explosions, shootouts, dog-chasing scenes, recon, and jungle navigation.

At the climax, the conspirator is unveiled and the Nick is able to stop the assassin.

PS: Nick’s special forces training appears to have made him into a ultramarathoner-sharpshooter-detective-spy. But thankfully that hasn’t changed him at his core — a man desirous of keeping his promise to his adopted daughter, and having a deep care about others.

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