A contemporary international espionage thriller that takes readers to places as diverse as New Jersey, Albuquerque, North Korea, Moscow, and the Persian Gulf, Valletta’s novel has a cinematic feel that, coupled with its short chapters and combination of espionage and military action, will satisfy thriller fans. While the pacing is mostly strong, excessive modifiers and descriptive passages at times impede the narrative, especially of weapons and military hardware, but also of quotidian details, too: “Kayden stroked his clean-shaven jaw absentmindedly” and “Anastasia quietly scanned the neatly printed pages within the folder, attempting to mentally prepare himself for the oncoming discussion.” There’s a lean, propulsive novel in here, but the gristle around it dilutes its power.
The energy picks up in action sequences, such as a scene of air combat among three nations described with a crisp clarity and technical precision. The Russian heavies are suitably scary, and the plot-—involving satellites, lasers, the tinderbox of Middle Eastern politics, and high-tech surprises—proves true to its genre, splitting the difference between the plausible and the cartoonish. A hybrid that bridges the gap between a whodunit, a military action narrative, and a spy story, Crossfire will satisfy lovers of military thrillers.
Takeaway: Mixing espionage and military action, this thriller peaks when the action starts.
Great for fans of: Brad Thor, Joel C. Rosenberg’s Without A Warning, Jack Mars’s Our Sacred Honor.
Design and typography: B
Marketing copy: A