Item description for Strategy Of Terror by Richard E. Peck...
A mesmerizing thriller with an intricate plot which takes the reader on an international terrorist hunt from Switzerland to the streets of Rome, through the majestic ski-slopes of Gran Sasso and the splendid plazas of Vatican City. The story rushes with an increasing speed and fascinating scheme to culminate in an unexpected climax. The author presents a rare view into contradictions of political life in Italy and the clandestine operations of the Interpol and CIA. Strategy of Terror is a page turner with crisp, distinctive dialog and unforgettable characters.
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Strategy for Terror Sure To Please Jun 28, 2005
Richard Peck's new novel Strategy of Terror (Seven Locks Press, $23.95, 339 pp) is his first foray into the world of spy thrillers and it's an all-round success. Previously known for his nonfiction work and the crime novel Dead Pawn, published earlier this year by University of New Mexico Press, Peck draws upon years he lived in Italy to paint a wholly credible story. Italian rightist and leftist terrorist groups struggle in a system in which each is still at the other's throat long after the best-known group, the Red Brigades, has ceased to function.
His protagonist, former intelligence agent and NCAA gymnastics champion Robert Mason, is drawn into danger when the woman he cares for, special assistant to a noted Italian film director, leaves him in Switzerland to return to Rome after her father is killed, seemingly in a work-related accident. Her father was one of the sanpietrini, skilled artisans who have spent generations caring for Saint Peter's Cathedral in the Vatican. And, without giving too much away, therein hangs the tale, a sinister plot to commit mass murder on Christmas Eve in front of worldwide television cameras.
It takes Mason and the reader nearly half the book to tumble to the planned attack, but we are treated to sinister events that chill us to the core, such as a terrorist trainee's final exam in which he not only blows up the industrialist he's targeting, but causes considerable collateral casualties as well. And even when we get to the climax, events do not unfold as we expect, with double crosses, counterplots, and new information spurred desperate last-minute heroics.
Set in the post-9/11 world in which the security services of most nations are focused on the Al-Qaeda threat, this is nonetheless a plausible story of factions in Italy vying for power at each other's expense, in which no action is too outrageous if the other can be blamed. In previous years, the world has seen the Basques in Spain and the Continuity IRA in Belfast overstep themselves and lose the support of their constituencies through outrageous attacks that caused mass casualties.
The pace is superb, the knowledge of Italian and Swiss locations is masterful, and the characters--even minor ones--crisply drawn, complex, and clearly motivated. Peck has obviously learned from reading the masters and his dialog sparkles. He hasn't forgotten to include comic relief, but the action is intense and his protagonist and his heroine demonstrate coolness under fire, resourcefulness, and the physical endurance necessary to counter a plot that they stumble on only a week before it is to come to fruition.
If plausible spy thrillers are your cup of tea, or you think you'd like to try one, Strategy of Terror is well worth your time. I think Peck--and Robert Mason--will be heard from again.