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by Dev Stryker
by Dev Stryker

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Average Customer Rating:3.0 out of 5 stars

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Following the death of her father--a former CIA spy who had lent his talents to an international anti-terrorist agency--Amelia Pierce sets out to complete her father's last mission: preventing terrorists from introducing bubonic plague into the water supply. 
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Avg. Customer Review:3.0 out of 5 stars
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3 out of 5 starsMurphy and Cochran do it again!, January 21, 2001
Reviewer: polywogg (see more about me) from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

THE PLOT Amelia Pierce has a normal enough life, but with a soon-to-be ex-lover, she heads home to her parent's house to heal her ego and ease the transition. However, she finds her life shattered by the truth about her father -- he is not a simple journalist, but an operative for "The Network", a ultra-secret organization of operatives on loan from the major intelligence agencies of the various countries with one goal: combat terrorism. It's like James Bond and his counterparts working for Interpol, with only one person knowing all the agents. The father is killed by an assassin, as is Amelia's mother, but Amelia manages to escape and starts using all the skills her father taught to her as a child in a long-running series of "survival" games. 

The bad guys are mostly one-dimensional except for the assassin, with the plot revolving around plans for Libyan terrorists to poison the water supply of America. And Amelia has the added problem that she can't seem to trust anyone,

even the head of the Network.

WHAT I LIKED The book was written by Warren Murphy and Molly Cochran, two of my favorite authors whether they use their own names or the "Dev Stryker" nom-de-plume. So, the style, the dialogue, the plot tools...all are superb, but I'm a little biased.

This book is also unique in the field -- the main character (Amelia) doesn't even make an appearance until several chapters into the book. And seemingly major characters keep getting killed off! There are not a whole lot of people left by the end of the book, so it becomes somewhat easier to follow. And killing off the major characters does keep the reader guessing all the way through. 

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE As much as I liked the writing, and as much as I liked the plot twists with the death of major characters, it made it very hard to care about some of the characters -- why bother if they are killed off half-way through the book. As I said above, Amelia is the main character but doesn't appear until several chapters into the book. Her father seemed to be the main character for the first few chapters, and then he dies. Four other key characters bite the dust before the end of the book too, nicely spread out through the book so you lose a character every couple of chapters. Too bad if you care about one...and after the first two check out, its hard to keep your interest.

For example, the first twist is the death of the father. He has been the "main" character up until then, and just when you have invested some interest in the character, he's toast. And theoretically you are instantly supposed to transfer your reader support to the daughter who survives. Then you find out that she isn't quite the helpless person she is portrayed as because her father taught her survival skills when she was young -- and yet she never wondered about her father? She always wrote him off as a small CIA bureaucrat, yet in the next breath talks about him in almost super-human qualities, with the worship obvious. The collaboration between Murphy and Cochran is usually excellent -- in this book it reads more like they disagreed about the characters and maybe wrote chapters on their own. Kind of like the classic writing game that one person writes one chapter with twists and turns, and then asks the next person to pull it together and mesh the various elements, and give their own spin to it.

OVERALL RATING I liked the book but it seems like that this was not a true collaboration but rather passing the pen back and forth. There were too many plot twists and it was too hard to switch your affections to the remaining characters as each one gets removed. Overall: a 3.0 out of 5.0. Glad it was a library book not a hardcover that I had purchased.


Amelia Pierce's calm, comfortable world is shattered on her thirtieth birthday.  In the space of a few terrifying, explosive minutes, her parents are killed before her eyes; their home is destroyed; and she, Amelia, shoots a man.

Her father's dying revelation is a shock: Arthur Pierce is not a retired CIA-cryptographer turned international journalist -- he is a filed operative for The Network, a secret international organization dedicated to stamping out terrorism.  Now Amelia must complete his last mission: convey a battered notebook to the head of the Network, Davis Hyatt.

Amelia is not a spy -- she is a book editor.  But the survival games of her youth were rigorous training exercises designed by her ever-vigilant father, and Amelia has her Russian ballerina mother's iron will -- and some good luck.  Despite repeated attempts on her life, Amelia delivers the notebook and its coded message, the details of a terrorist plot against the United States.

The mysterious, nameless assassin on her trail is fascinated by Amelia, by her ability to escape his deadliest traps, by her haunting beauty.  Davis Hyatt's second in command, Burt Sergeant, doesn't trust Amelia, fearing she is a terrorist plant sent to undermine the Network.

Amelia breaks her father's personal cipher and discovers the terrorists' weapon -- genetically engineered bubonic plague, 100% fatal in three days, ready to be dumped into major U.S. reservoirs.

The nameless assassin will do the job...unless the Network can stop him.  Burt Sergeant is right -- someone at the Network is a traitor.  Amelia Pierce, frightened and betrayed, finds herself in the assassin's arms. She must stop him -- even if it means exposing herself to the plague.

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