Onyx reviews: The
Rules of Silence by David Lindsey
Austin writer David Lindsey returns to a more conventional story than his
previous outing, Animosity, which had an ending that must have been the subject
of lengthy debates at his publisher's editorial department. However, there are
similarities between the two books. In both, the protagonist's secure life is
suddenly turned upside down by some outside force.
Titus Cain is a self-made millionaire and the owner of a thriving software
company located in the Hill Country of Texas. His idyllic world is tipped off
its axis when he becomes the target of a South American extortionist who kidnaps
Cain without sequestering him.
"I am going to explain to you how your life has changed," the man
tells him. If Cain doesn't follow the terrorist's instructions exactly and
transfer $64 million to various bank accounts on a very tight schedule, people
around Cain are going to start dying. Cain has to unload the money in a way that
raises no suspicions without haggling or negotiating. If he tells the FBI,
people will die. As many and at whatever time the man decides he wants to kill
Cain isn't without resources, though, and his network puts him in touch with
Garcia Burden, a man with experience in similar types of schemes, although
Burden admits that nothing on this scale has ever been attempted on American
soil before. Cain's persecutor, a professional kidnapper named Luquin, has the
advantage of time—he's been planning this operation for months and Burden must
get up to speed in a day or two.
Luquin is completely amoral. He kills to make a point. When a close friend of
Cain's dies in an apparent accident Luquin arranged, Cain understands the depths
of his trouble.
Thus begins a caper in which the good guys try to take revenge for what's being
done to Cain. The difference with The Rules of Silence is that the counter-plan
is running concurrently with the original crime and the balancing act Cain and
Burden must carry out is to prevent Luquin from realizing that Cain is doing
something to fight back.
The situation doesn't give Lindsey much time to delve deeply into
characterization. The entire novel takes place over a four-day period and most
of it is done with Cain and his colleagues under relentless stress. Cain and his
wife have the obligatory second thoughts that require Burden to make time to
explain the hopelessness of the situation if they don't take drastic measures to
get Luquin before he vanishes with the money.
Burden's own motives aren't obvious through most of the book, but what is clear
is that he knows a lot more than he says. He seems intimately familiar with
Luquin and his way of handling the terrorist is unorthodox. He would prefer that
no one ever knows anything happened. If people in Luquin's network know he's
been compromised, they will go underground and years of intelligence will be
Lindsey ups the ante by connecting Luquin with the types of Middle-Eastern
terrorists who are the traditional enemies of the state these days. The book's
only weakness is that once Burden's plan goes into motion, there's little room
for surprises. The scheme does start to come apart in the closing pages—and
Lindsey has established in previous books that he's not averse to a pessimistic
ending—but this time he plays it safe. It's a thrilling adventure, but one
that doesn't exactly pay off at the level of expectation set up by the clever
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