This engrossing and disturbing novel isn't grist for conspiracy theory junkies but a believable network of Things That Go Bump in the Night, disgorging certain facts that require killing to keep quiet. Dark Continents, Special Forces and spy networks in the age of electronic communication. All conspire to reveal death squads and mass murder in the name of peace and freedom. International embarrassment must be avoided at any cost, regardless of collateral damage.
A videotape of a village massacred by American soldiers in South Africa is currently in the hands of a South African mercenary. When he attempts to sell that tape through his usual contacts, alarms go off around the world, particularly in London, Germany, and the United States. The images on the tape are supposed to be history, safely buried and inaccessible. It is absolutely unacceptable that these images reach a live audience. To this end, factions move to block that one South African mercenary, with specific orders to terminate.
Realizing his imminent danger, the mercenary contacts a newspaper woman in London. She wants the tape and is willing to pay for it, but is frustrated on her first attempt to obtain it, sabotaged by those she thought she could trust. Now she doggedly pursues any leads she can uncover, calling in favors and following even the most fragmented clues.
Meanwhile, a purveyor of electronic data supplies relevant information to clients, no questions asked. It is a good business and pays well, this buying and selling of details. But when fragments of his own forgotten past begin to emerge and the connections become too obvious to ignore, the owner of the information agency finds himself in a compromising, dangerous position. A delicate balance is disturbed, and disparate forces unite to stifle those asking questions. Meanwhile, the mercenary dodges and feints, so far avoiding discovery, but the odds are against him.
In this disturbing and though-provoking novel, Peter Temple builds the tension and ratchets up the action to the page-turning end, an excellent, well-written thriller that evokes malevolent shadows of intrigue and special ops, all the unnamable things we confine to spy movies. We all know these forces are at work out there somewhere; we just donít know the details or suspect the impact of certain information. Temple reminds us that the surface has cracked. Chicken Little wasn't kidding.