Marc Royce, an intelligence operative from Bunn’s earlier Kenya story, Rare Earth, is in Geneva, Switzerland for the first time ever. Royce is without backup, without a job (he’s just been fired), and without a gun (Swiss security), yet he’s about to enter an art gallery by “request” of the U.S. government to copy files which hold information of vital national importance.
His arrival is anticipated. The gallery has just been broken into and a bloodstained body on the floor draws him to the precise location to trigger a bomb. A suspected leak in U.S. intelligence dictated that Swiss intelligence not be informed of Marc’s mission. Coincidentally, Kitra Korban, a lovely distraction from Marc’s exploits in Kenya, arrives at the gallery at that moment with the express purpose of saving his hide.
That all happens within the first eight pages. After the explosion (remember the device in the gallery), the Swiss police and intelligence community are very much aware of Marc Royce’s presence in their country. At the main police station, he’s interrogated and accused of breaking and entering, of killing the man in the gallery (a suspected conduit for funding terrorism), plus other conspiracies.
Davis Bunn then crafts a complex four-point debate between those in the Geneva police station and powerful figures in Washington. That neatly sets up the bigger story—Iran’s suspected use of North Korea as a test site for their nuclear ambitions, the looming danger of closure of the Strait of Hormuz and a regional war if a missile shipment from North Korea is not interdicted. That mission falls to Marc Royce, with Kitra alongside, realizing he cannot express his love to her without sacrificing his calling—providing ongoing intelligence needed to protect his country.
The reader feels enlightened, if not educated, with plausible scenarios involving recent and current political situations. Bunn indicts Switzerland’s willingness to help tax dodgers and criminals hide their assets; he notes that the country thrives on selling secrets, facilitated by a legal system that prevents outsiders from gaining privileged information. A wealthy Iranian woman and art dealer delights at her father’s comment that danger is the most intense of all spices. Then she’s confronted by a fellow countryman who personifies evil, menace, and terror.
Only two missteps among Bunn’s abundance of detailed narrative: there’s but a mere ten lines of dialogue between Marc’s order of an omelet and its delivery. We also hear the redoubtable Carter Dawes speak of a Special Forces platoon as backup. He should have known that Special Forces is organized as a special operations force—teams, groups—but never into platoons, which are a conventional unit.
This book lacks the empathy of some of Bunn’s recent works; e.g., Unlimited, which has protecting orphans as the main thrust. In Strait of Hormuz, we have a more complex plot, with international intrigues, bombs, shootings, and diabolically evil people. Thankfully, we worship with the underground church which gathers saints from a mélange of cultures. Their clandestine meetings–where a careless word can compromise hundreds, if not thousands–draw the faithful like oases of peace and affirmation of the risen Christ.
Please note that I received a complimentary copy of Strait of Hormuz from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.
You can read Chapters 1-3 for Free at this link – http://statictab.com/j4s7yd8
- Strait of Hormuz by Davis Bunn (crankysbookblog.wordpress.com)
- Book Released on Aftermaths of Iran Closing Hormuz Strait (iransview.com)