W.E.B. Griffin aims high with the third entry in his Clandestine Operations franchise, Curtain of Death, but ultimately misses his mark.
On a cold January night in Munich, two women are instructed to get into the back of an ambulance against their will. Surrounded by four men wielding knives, they comply without protest. But as the ambulance pulls away, one of the girls, who we later find out is Claudette Colbert, fights back against their attackers, killing three in the process.
The life-saving, heroic actions actually prove to be quite problematic when it’s revealed who the bad guys are and who the heroine works for.
Colbert is a WAC technical sergeant with the newly created Directorate of Central Intelligence, and the attackers were all Soviet KGB agents. Also implicated is Claudette Colbert’s boss, James Cronley, the Chief DCI of Europe. The identities of the involved parties make the entire ordeal much bigger, and infinitely more complicated.
What follows are all the geopolitical implications, which are somehow intertwined with a plot involving German scientists. However, it’s not easy to see how it all fits together.
From the very beginning, when four highly-trained agents usher two American intelligence operatives into the back of an ambulance without tying them up or frisking them first, the entire plot is a confusing mess. The improbable opening ends with Colbert retrieving a firearm from her blouse and neutralizing the threats with relative ease.
Sadly, the story stalls early on and never really gets going, as Griffin’s latest novel is a rare dud from the famed author. The book keeps setting up for a big, explosive moment that never arrives, and the writing is mediocre at best, which is the most disappointing thing on a lengthy list of shortcomings.
The writing team of Griffin and his son, William E. Butterworth IV, have been up and down in the past, but this is a new low point for them and a total misstep in what is otherwise a really good series.
Author: W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV
Pages: 480 (Hardcover)
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: December 27, 2016 (Order Now!)