RACING ORION

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CIA agent Jeremy Kent was a mole in a bad guys’ outfit and was discovered, but only after he had snatched and hidden the antidote to the most insidious and powerful artificial virus known to humankind. Of course, he does not crack under torture, and in the nick of time, escapes. (In fact, he escapes time and time again!) Jeremy is being chased now all across Europe, and in a particularly harrowing getaway, beautiful innocent bystander Allison Shaw is pulled into the chaos. Now it is the two of them on the run—and of course the seeds of love have been planted. They have the antidote to the virus but must retrieve a key (don’t ask) that has been stashed in Buckingham Palace. Franz certainly knows how to keep things moving. The chapters are very short, and unlike thrillers with more subtle plots, this one is really just one long, relentless, hair-raising chase. The good guys are good, and the bad guys are horrifically, pathologically bad. Jeremy is not George Smiley but rather James Bond, squared. At one point, he chews into his own shoulder to get out a capsule that will simulate death. He is shot, knifed, and thrown around like a rag doll, but he always recovers with, seemingly, no lasting effects. There are some good if overwrought lines (“A cloud of nightmarish déjà vu instantly filled the cabin”), and the writing is generally up to the job despite occasional typos. At the climax, all seems lost, but we have learned by now to trust in the hokey faith that Franz has instilled in us.

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