It was thought that during the height of tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States, the KGB may have cleverly smuggled a nuclear bomb into the very heart of Washington D.C. In Pete Earley's new thriller, Lethal Secrets, this bomb is in the hands of a band of Chechen rebels, lead by an insane terrorist, Movladi 'the Viper' Islamov, who's threatening to detonate it unless his demands are met.
The fate of the city rests in the hands of a disgraced deputy U.S. Marshal, Wyatt Conway, who is reluctantly called into action by his FBI and CIA rivals because he was once a friend of Islamov's, before the freedom fighter turned into an international terrorist.
But to stop Islamov, Conway must trust Vladimir Khrenkov, a possibly corrupt Russian intelligence agent, and Kimberly Lodge, a skeptical CIA beauty. Conway suspects Khrenkov of being the man who executed a top Russian mobster that Conway was protecting in federal witness protection program. And the CIA's Lodge isn't all that certain Conway is capable of outwitting the terrorists and protecting the capital of the free world.
With time running out, Conway must find a way to manipulate and expose Khrenkov, keep Lodge and her bureaucratic cronies off his back, and prevent Islamov from igniting the spark for Armageddon.
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What could have been an explosive novel of international intrigue exploiting post-9/11 paranoia sparks brilliantly before sputtering out. Deputy U.S. Marshal Wyatt Conway is charged with guarding Sergey Pudin, a Russian mafiosi. Meanwhile, Russian intelligence agent Colonel Khrenkov is blackmailed into murdering Pudin before he can testify against major crime bosses. In distant Chechnya, Movladi "The Viper" Islamov a former student of Conway's has become an international terrorist in the Chechen cause, and he's discovered that in the 1950s, the Soviets built a thermonuclear "sleeper bomb" that they secreted in the basement of the Russian embassy in Washington, D.C. Conway, a throwback to pre-1950s he-man values, is a devil-may-care smart aleck who confuses prejudice for opinion and wisecracks for wisdom, but he's apparently irresistible to women, especially to Kimberly Lodge, a shapely CIA counterterrorism expert. Undaunted by demotion, Conway shoehorns himself into the CIA's investigative team, making monkeys of the best of the U.S. and Russian officials. Earley knows his stuff he seamlessly works in complex detail about everything from government bureaucracy to weapons technology but he undermines his plot with improbabilities and contrivances. Better editing could have made this thriller a blast.