Onyx reviews: The
Color of Night by David Lindsey
Austin-based author David Lindsey has used the familiar streets of Houston as
the backdrop for many of his early books, including Mercy which brought
him to national attention. More recently he has traveled further afield for his
settings, although Houston appears at some point in virtually all of his
previous nine novels.
In The Color of Night, Lindsey is again moving into new territory,
entering the land of Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy with a thriller set on the
international stage. True to form, Lindsey starts out in Houston, where pivotal
scenes take place in the museum district and around Hobby airfield. Lindsey soon
takes the story abroad to Venice, London, Paris and Zurich in this tale of
espionage and complex sting operations amid the world of art dealers and retired
Central to everything is Harry Strand, former Foreign Intelligence Agent, who
is trying to start a new life after his retirement from service and the death of
his wife in an automobile accident. His agency cover had introduced him to the
art world and he has used his contacts and expertise for his new 'civilian'
profession. He has absolutely no contact with any of his former colleagues.
However, Strand discovers that it is not so easy to leave the espionage game
behind. There is too much unfinished business. Too many figures from the past
are unwilling to stay in the shadows.
Strand becomes interested in a new customer who has approached him to sell a
set of valuable drawings by modern masters. The exotic Mara Song, who he had
first encountered while swimming at a private River Oaks club, accompanies
Strand to Europe on a buying excursion. While staying at her home in Rome,
Strand discovers a shocking video tape which reveals a crucial incident from his
past in an entirely new light. He then learns that several of his former
co-conspirators have recently suffered gruesome, violent deaths. Strand knows
who the mastermind behind this sudden flurry of activity is. He knows that his
adversary will not stop until Strand has fully repaid a past debt.
The only way to defend himself is to go on the attack. Strand finds himself
completely embroiled in the world that he thought he was leaving behind. Mara
Song becomes entangled in the complicated web, unable to separate the Harry
Strand she is falling in love with from the Harry Strand who is wrapped up in
The action is fast and furious, and the plot twists and surprises are doled
out generously throughout the novel. Strand is a typically Ludlumesque leading
man, generally well in control of the situation, although he seems to rely on
good fortune rather than clever behavior to get through many of his ordeals and
crises. At times, he seems almost too simplistic to be believable as a veteran
of espionage. He has none of the high-tech gadgetry which spy work in the late
1990's would seem to demand. No bug sweeping gadgets, sophisticated jamming
devices or weaponry. His only nod to the era is his heavy reliance on encrypted
e-mail as a method of communicating with allies and adversaries alike. The
reader may be tempted to watch Strand's back for him in situations where the
hero seems oblivious to the potential risks.
Still, the adventures of Harry Strand sweep the reader along to a taut and
nerve-wracking confrontation in London, as several threads of Strand's past
hurtle towards each other and one cataclysmic encounter which will keep the
reader up late at night, at the edge of the seat.
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