Monday, March 30, 2009

Mark T. Sullivan: Triple Cross

I have signed up for several “Early Reviewer” books through my LibraryThing account. I finally got one from St. Martin’s Press that is due to be published soon – April, 2009. I don’t feel obligated to give it a good review, but I do feel obligated to give it a prompt review. So I have jumped it ahead of my unconsciously long backlog of completed books.

Triple Cross by Mark T. Sullivan is a fast paced thriller – my kind of book. Although Sullivan has written six other books, this is the first I’ve read. I will not avoid his books in the future, but neither will I go out of my way to find more.

Mickey Hennessey is head of security at the Jefferson Club, a private resort in Montana for super-rich and super-celebrity clients. Conveniently for the bad guys, the seven richest men in the world, as well as the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, have gathered at the Jefferson Club for a New Year’s Party. Hennessey’s three fourteen year old triplets (two boys and a girl) are also visiting while their mother is off on a honeymoon with a new husband.

A paramilitary force of about 50, led by “General Anarchy” attacks the resort, killing all the guards except Hennessey. They call themselves the Third Position Army, opposed to extremes on both the left and right. They embrace the message of the “anti-globalists” who are opposed to large international corporations and their political supporters.

In the early part of the book, I found myself thinking about a chapter from Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six. In that chapter, a group of terrorists wanted the secret codes that let the rich make more money than anyone else. When the hostage could not produce the codes, the terrorists got angry. Clancy’s point was that the situation was dangerous, because there are no such codes. But I found myself thinking that maybe Sullivan does believe in the secret codes for the rich.

The bad guys proceed to put the Senator and super-rich on trial one at a time. “Judge New Truth” presided, “General Anarchy” served as prosecutor, and “Citizen’s Defender Emilia” provided entirely inadequate defense. The trials were broadcast over the web, with millions of viewers casting “Guilty” or “Not Guilty” votes. “General Anarchy” had incredibly detailed dirt on each defendant, although the explanation for how he got the information was not very satisfying. Needless to say, the defendants are not sympathetic characters.

Beyond the initial attack, the action centers on the hostage rescue efforts. Hennessey is injured and watching helplessly with the FBI outside the compound, while his triplets are trapped inside. The triplets put their vast experience as teenage troublemakers to use causing problems for “General Anarchy” and his troops.

Once the book got going, it became hard to put down. Many of the twists and turns were interesting, although some major twists were predictable. Hennessey, though flawed, and the triplets were likeable characters. The hostages and Third Position Army members were caricatures.

On one level, Triple Cross is an enjoyable, mindless action story. On another, it appears to be a vehicle for espousing the anti-globalist perspective. All powerful and wealthy people are ruthless, greedy, and evil. Otherwise they would not be rich and powerful.

I have to admit that I did enjoy Triple Cross once the action really started moving. But it left me with no feeling of substance. The characters and plot were shallow, and the message left a sour taste in my mouth. The cover of my review copy includes a glowing quote from Douglas Preston. Interestingly, my complaint about Triple Cross is very similar to my complaint about Preston’s Blasphemy.

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