The Right Hand by Derek Haas
Midway through, this was looking like it was going to another run-of-the-mill thriller with a hero straight out of the Bourne/Bond school where he fashions ever more fanciful escapes from the jaws of death with each passing moment. Even the bad guy’s identity was easily predictable despite being referred to by his code name “Snow Wolf”. The suspense wasn’t intended to be part of the attraction in reading this though as his identity was revealed by the author shortly afterwards anyway.
Austin Clay is presented as a tool or a weapon and that is why the first half of the novel suffers because it is hard to care about a thing rather than a person. What works well then is the introduction not of the girl he’s trying to rescue Marika Csontas but actually Michael Adams a senior CIA director because he’s presented with something to lose and conversely someone who you would expect at his level of seniority to be untouchable.
From here the story gets elevated out of the ordinary and the conclusion makes it all worthwhile.
The author is probably best known for his television and movie work including Wanted and Chicago Fire. It is not surprising that it has been optioned for a movie in fact it wouldn’t be surprising to see it converted into one of those aforementioned Bourne/Bond type vehicles. The Mulholland Books website has a nice background piece by the author on the origination of the story.
My final rating is 8 out of 10.
There has always been a need in the spy game for operations outside the realm of legality-covert missions so black no one in the American government, and almost no one in intelligence itself, is aware of their existence. The left hand can’t know what the right hand is doing.
Austin Clay is that right hand, executing missions that would be disavowed by his own government were he ever to be compromised. His team consists of only his trusted handler and himself. His missions are among the most important and dangerous in U.S. history.
Clay is sent to track down a missing American operative, a man who was captured outside of Moscow, in the Russian countryside. Soon he discovers the missing officer is only the beginning of the mission, and finds himself protecting a desperate woman who believes a mole has penetrated the top levels of the U.S. government, throwing the international balance of power into jeopardy.
With blistering pace, international intrigue, and a high-stakes plot that spans continents, THE RIGHT HAND introduces a new hero, from the novelist whose work the New York Times Book Review has proclaimed “devastatingly cool.”