Christopher Reichís third novel in the Jonathan and Emma Ransom series, following Rules of Deception and Rules of Vengeance, finds the American physician from Doctors Without Borders trading in his medical degree for the opportunity to become a covert operative for the U.S. --- and come face-to-face with his traitorous (?) wife Emma, herself a deadly operative who has worked for different groups in the espionage game.
Reichís writing is crisp, and the development of Dr. Jonathan Ransom over this trilogy of books has been quite remarkable. When he initially found out his wife wasnít who she claimed to be, he was shocked. When she was later part of an attempted assassination that nearly killed him, he got angry. Now, in Rules of Betrayal, he is called to action by the same U.S. military team that trained Emma. This time, however, the endgame is uncertain, and Jonathan has a very short time to learn the spy game and rules of survival before he is placed in a precarious, life-threatening situation. The carrot that U.S. government representative Frank Connor from the group known as Division dangles in front of Jonathan is the opportunity to avert a terrorist attack against the U.S. and a shot at taking out his wife if she interferes on behalf of the enemy with which she is now encamped.
Jonathan is trained primarily by a Mossad agent named Danni in basic techniques of the spy game and various forms of survival and defense. The plan is to have Jonathan pose as a Swiss plastic surgeon being paid by a rich terrorist operative to alter his appearance so he may travel to the West unhindered by Homeland Security alerts. At the same time, the U.S. government knows of a nuclear warhead that was found on a foreign mountaintop and shrunk to a form small enough for transport to the U.S. The terrorist group plans an attack in New York City that will top those perpetrated on 9/11. Is Emma Ransom, former Russian and U.S. operative, now helping this Middle Eastern group as an act of vengeance against the U.S. for seemingly abandoning her on a prior assignment?
The pace is furious and the events very topical as Reich preys upon our daily fears in these dangerous times, where a terrorist attack at any moment is a real possibility. The only issue I take with this book --- and the series in general --- is how Reich has resorted to the James Patterson, Inc., style of writing (ultra-short chapters with all seemingly ending on a new cliffhanger). Though this may be a popular formula for modern thriller fiction, it diminishes Reichís work, somewhat. He is a far better writer than this, as seen is some of his earlier work like Numbered Account and The Patriots Club. I look forward to the Ransom series continuing. After having to wait nearly 280 pages for Jonathan and Emma to come face to face in Rules of Betrayal, Iím hoping for some more face time in the next effort.