This is the fifth book in the Craig Page series. It is a fast-paced thriller that always has another card up its sleeve to entice the reader to read on and be entertained. Once I started reading, I was hooked. The book simply kidnapped my complete attention.
Several themes play out together, and although they may seem disconnected, they are all knitted together in a story line that hums along steadily. There is a plot by the corrupt and scheming Finance Minister of China, Zhou Yun, to take over banks and wineries, starting in Italy, in an attempt to restore China to its former greatness, making it an even more important player on the world stage, while he also, conveniently, enriches himself and unseats the current President, Mei Ling, who took over after his brother was murdered. He is ruthless and will stop at nothing to accomplish his goals.
At the same time there is an election in Italy and one man, Roberto Parelli, has begun to gain more and more attention. He wants to divide Italy into two parts, one the North and the other the South, since the South drains the economy of the North. He believes this will make Italy greater in the long run. He is deep in debt and is willing to make ethical compromises to accomplish his goals. Soon, Zhou becomes interested in financing Parelli as it will advance his own cause. He wants his winery, the winery that has been in Parelli’s family for generations. Money laundering is no problem for Zhou, or the Russians he deals with, nor is violence as his associates are thugs.
Meanwhile, Enrico Marino, alias Craig Page who was once the director of the CIA, is in a road race in Italy which he wins! Zhou was responsible for the murder of his daughter, Francesca, a journalist, and Page was blamed by Zhou for the murder of Zhou’s brother, the former Chinese President. He wants vengeance, and to avoid being killed, since he knows Zhou will never stop until he succeeds, Page had plastic surgery and assumed a new identity as a race car driver. When Marino’s sponsor, Federico Castigliano, a prominent banker, was murdered in a supposed jewelry robbery, he was drawn into an international intrigue of major proportions. He knew that Federico would never have risked his life to protect jewelry and he re-enters the investigative world he once controlled, calling on former friends for help. He also reunites with his former girlfriend, Elizabeth Crowder, since she is investigating the Parelli campaign as a journalist and has uncovered some interesting information. Zhou would also like to get his hands on her since she also was connected to the death of his brother.
Have I confused you enough? Trust me, the book is not confusing. Sometimes it feels obvious and contrived, but it always draws the reader back in as it twists and turns in all directions to solve the murder and get to the bottom of the deception. The need is to take Parelli out of the election in Italy to prevent Italy’s decline and to remove Zhou as a threat to the world. The how is the problem!
The leaders of many major countries become involved as do higher ups in their governments. In China, President, Mei Ling, and in America, President Worth, both become drawn into the conspiracy and work together. There is a pox on both their houses with corrupt politicians lurking around trying to protect their own interests instead of their country’s.
Although there are many parts to the story, and it takes a bit of time for it to all fall into place, as the threats fly, as romance develops and as the mystery is solved in this thriller, the story will be knitted together completely to the satisfaction of the reader. The excitement is non-stop as the author creates a story that seems at once implausible and yet, as he develops it, highly possible too. The sentences are short and uncomplicated and the meaning is easily grasped. However, the excitement is continuous as the reader tries to intuit the end. Don’t peek!