After the assassination of the German chancellor, the security of Office 119 is torn by the multitude of threats facing Europe and its people. Now time is running out. Agent Renate Bachle must do everything and anything to stop a conspirator willing to push nations to war and scapegoat an entire race in a bid for deadly power.
In the shadows, a renegade priest and his bodyguard attempt to protect a sacred codex as ancient as it is coveted. But not even those willing to manipulate the Vatican to save the world can grasp the true nature of the power that has fallen into the wrong hands. All they can do is try to harness it long enough to stem the tide of blood and evil before it washes across Europe...and the globe.
Another melodramatic installment of Lee's Office 119 series sees the international police force racing to unravel a conspiracy that could lead to a 21st-century holocaust. After a series of riots in Europe culminate in an attack on the Grande Mosquee de Paris, the new president of the EU shepherds Muslims into "protection zones." As religious factions the Stewards and Saif Al Sharaawi prepare for the coming storm, agents Bachle, Renault and Caine of Office 119 investigate the mysterious assassination of the German chancellor. Elsewhere, priest Steve Lorenzo quests for a device of biblical proportions, which may prove instrumental in the current crisis. At times, Lee manages to whip rich atmosphere from her European backdrop, but her blunted prose rarely cuts through long-winded exposition, and her characters largely adhere to cultural stereotypes. The "elite" agents don't investigate as much as stumble upon ready-made revelations, and the villain is revealed so early that the lengthy investigation feels redundant. Tactical action provides some unexpected thrills toward the climax, but the journey there is a suspense-free slog, broken up by uninspired romance. Series fans will undoubtedly be interested, but new readers will find little to hold their attention. (May) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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April 30, 2007
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Excerpt from The Jericho Pact by Rachel Lee
In the warehouse where Office 119 hid itself, Lawton Caine stood in a walkway between cubicles, absentmindedly juggling a round football between his feet as he watched a bank of television monitors on the wall. He wasn't much of a footballer, having grown up in the United States, where football was an entirely different sport and what he now practiced was called soccer, but he had decided to adopt the European name for the sport. It was, he realized, symbolic of a deeper change within him. He no longer thought of himself as a former FBI agent who had disappeared into the rabbithole world of Office 119. He was no longer an American living in Rome. This was home now, and learning to appreciate football as it was played in Europe was a way of connecting himself to this new stage of his life.
Nearby sat his colleague Margarite Renault, formerly of the French Sýrete. She, too, had left an old life behind, although the change had not been as radical for her. She was still on her native continent, if not in her native Paris. But she seemed even more uncomfortable than he felt, for it was the rioting in her native city-- and the burning of its historic mosque--that dominated the news broadcasts.
They were waiting for a speech by the president of the European Union, Jules Soult. Except for light from the bank of monitors, the offices were dark. The other agents were either gone for the day or off on missions somewhere. Even El Jefe, the chief, had bailed, remarking that he had a dinner date that could not be postponed.
Margarite and Lawton had joked about whether a woman was involved, but neither believed it. Their existence in and service to this ultrasecret UN organization required them to be invisible to the world and dead to everyone in their past lives. Relationships would not only complicate their mission, relationships could put all their lives in jeopardy.
"You know," Lawton remarked to Margarite, trying vainly to master a step-over while he watched the images of the burning mosque, "there's something missing here."
She looked at him. "What would that be, apart from your appalling balance?"
He smirked. "Give me a break, Margarite. I'm still learning. This wasn't my game before." "That's more than apparent," she said, her face deadpan for a long moment before she finally smiled. "But you weren't talking about your footballing skills. So what's missing, mon ami?"
"Where are the pictures of young men in handcuffs, being led away by the gendarmes?"
She nodded, her eyes scanning the broadcasts from all over Europe plus the international news networks. "What do you mean?"
"Surely you don't think the Paris police aren't making any arrests. In every riot there are three kinds of pictures: buildings and cars burning, the rioters and the police making arrests. They're showing the mosque burning. They're showing the blood-stained and charred bodies of Muslims being taken into ambulances. They're showing the French youth rioting. But no arrests."
She nodded. "The commentators are calling these riots an intifada, Lawton. The Muslims are starting them. The French are only defending themselves. Perhaps the police see no reason to make arrests."
He looked at her. "No reason?" "Oui," she said. "It is!how do you call it in English when it is okay for hunters to shoot rabbits?"
"Open season." He frowned, scanning the endlessly playing views of violence. "You're saying the French government is going to stand by while people kill Muslims?"
Margarite shrugged. "Perhaps it is time for that. Why should French citizens stand by while Muslims take to the streets and burn buildings? Is there any proof that the Muslims did not start the fire at the Paris mosque?"
Lawton's gaze was intent. "What are you saying?" "You do understand that one of the primary objections to the EU Constitution was that the EU might accept Turkey as a member, yes?