In the wee hours of the morning, four men in latex masks enter the elegant Montclair Hotel in midtown Manhattan. After detaining the night staff, Frank Belmonte, one of the best jewel thieves in the business, breaks into the safe deposit boxes held by the rich old inhabitants of the hotel. "Frankie Rocks" takes roughly ten million dollars' worth of jewels from the boxes. The heist seems to be running smoothly until some unexpected guests arrive at the hotel and the burglars are forced to take them as last minute hostages. But these are no ordinary hotel guests, and three of the four thieves aren't really looking for jewels. Their agenda is one of national security. One of the hostages is a renegade Cuban doctor who has smuggled a deadly airborne virus out of the Angolan jungle. The Cuban government has threatened to unleash this epidemic on America unless the President meets Castro's demands for an immediate, complete end to the economic embargo on Cuba. To thwart this international blackmail, CIA director Linwood Cutshaw needs to capture the doctor before he releases the virus on American soil, but he must create a smoke screen, so the Cuban authorites won't know the doctor has fallen into U.S. government hands. Cutshaw has recruited Teddy Tedesco, an honest ex-NYPD detective, two ex-CIA operatives, and Frank Belmonte for this nervy scheme—but only Belmonte believes they are out for the jewels. All at once their elaborate plans go awry and the thieves must face the unexpected. The quirky team of Teddy and Frank is forced to work together to root out the missing jewels while the enraged Cuban doctor prepares to inflict a new black plague on millions of unsuspecting Americans. An electrifying and all too believable caper, SMOKE SCREEN twists unpredictably toward an explosive denouement.
It doesn't take long before the uh-ohs start piling up in this solid thriller exploring a worldwide germ menace by the author of The Pope of Greenwich Village. Thanks to a virus discovered in Zaire in 1989, Cuba now has a biological weapon it can use to blackmail the U.S. just before the 1996 election. But the CIA has a line on the Cuban doctor, Ernesto Rivera, who's coming into the country to release the virus as a demonstration of its lethal capabilities. CIA head Lin Cutshaw asks ex-cop Teddy Tedesco to stage a hotel heist, in the course of which Rivera and his contact will be "accidentally" kidnapped. Teddy calls in an old adversary--Frank Belmonte, master thief--and feeds him a cover story, and the reader senses quite rightly that chaos is about to ensue. Patrick doesn't disappoint: when the kidnapping goes wrong, and the Cuban doctor escapes with the swag and the virus, all hell breaks loose, and it's the unlikely alliance between the ex-cop and the robber that propels the rest of the book. Patrick places these two characters in a world where nearly everyone else is out for themselves, including gangsters who want to get made, CIA agents who try clean house and federal agents who see a chance for the score of a lifetime. Patrick weaves these elements together with the casual mastery of a storyteller who plays against conventional plot twists. The result is a refreshingly taut, intelligent work of suspense.