Hunting Four Horsemen

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Jim Geraghty is a longtime favorite of mine, ever since he took up the task at National Review of reporting on John Kerry. More recently, he deserves plaudits for his skepticism about the once-prevailing conventional wisdom about the origin of Covid-19. His carefully laid-out reasoning convinced a lot of people (whether they admit it or not) that there might be something to Explanation B: an unintentional leak of the virus from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

But Jim writes fiction too, and this is the second book in (so far) a two-book series. It's billed as "A Dangerous Clique Novel", referring to a (fictional?) CIA team that's called on to terminate terroristic threats with extreme prejudice, and zero regard for due process. I read and reported on the first one back in 2019. And the Kindle version was, for a time, just $3.99 at Amazon. So…

It's set in a slightly-alternate universe where the recovery from the Covid pandemic is much less robust than what we're actually experiencing. The world is fragmented and paranoid. And then comes word that a mysterious evildoer, who's adopted the moniker "Hell Summoner", has engineered an even worse virus: one that can be targeted against those carrying a specific genome. And he's offering to tune it up and sell it off to whatever rich madman can give him $20 billion.

So the team is off globe-hopping, following up leads as they present themselves. A lot of gunplay, fisticuffs, and other miscellaneous violence occurs. And (of course) it comes down to a thrilling climax at Nakatomi Fox Plaza in Century City.

It's a page turner and a decent read. Jim (I call him Jim) has obviously done some globe-hopping himself, and describes many scenes with I've-been-there detail.

Downside: same as in the previous book. Some typos. Dialog that is sometimes clunky, sometimes didactic, and often just non-credible. Numerous shout-outs to pop culture, especially movies. And when I say "numerous", I mean "way too many." You know that Nakatomi Plaza reference? It's worked into the ground, especially when an FBI agent shows up named… yup, Johnson. To Geraghty's credit, he resisted giving him a partner also named Johnson. And thereby avoided the inevitable line "No, the other one."