I confess that I don't know much about the world of espionage and the myriad of spy thrillers that occupy this soggy terrain. (I enjoy the Bond movie franchise, and Patriot Games was cool.) When I was handed The Devil's Halo by Miami-based writer Chris Fox, yet to be released in the States, I thought, "I can't possibly slog through it." It's not the kind of literature I'd hunt for in musty old book stores in old New York and devour on the bus or subway. Yet, once I started it, I couldn't put it down.
It is the proverbial page tuner, as they say in the trades. I don't how it stacks up next to work of John LeCarre or Tom Clancy, as I've never read either author, but it is well-written, clever, and has an over-abundant attention to detail that will leave your head spinning; from military facts and descriptions (jets, submarines, nuclear devices, satellites, guns, surveillance gadgets, etc.) to visually provocative geographic locations. And Terry Weston, the serial book character that Mr. Fox has created, has that Harrison Ford swagger that screams for a film adaptation. If not Mr. Ford, perhaps Tom Hanks or Nicolas Cage as Weston?
Anyway, before I get my screenplay written, let me tell you about the plot without giving away too much of the story. Mr. Weston is an industrial espionage specialist contracted to retrieve an encrypted blockbuster movie that has been pilfered by a group of nasty Russian counterfeiters. But that's just the beginning.
Once in Russia, the CIA forces him to uncover a European plot aimed at driving a stake through the heart of America's military. Moreover, he's forced to drag his wife Maria, a brilliant scientist and consultant for DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), into this dangerous fray. Together they must thwart the French spy master Jean-Claude Maistre and his Russian goon Sergei Maleshneko from executing their devastating plot. If Weston and wife fail, America's GPS satellites will be neutralized and the U.S. military's space-dependent program rendered useless.
I couldn't help but think that Mr. Fox's book offers a plausible "what if" scenario that could theoretically serve as a blueprint for crippling our military. If you believe space is ultimately the place and the superpower that controls it controls the world, as it would appear in our paramilitary world order, then you will love this premise.
The ending might seem a bit preachy, but that's a minor detail in this fresh thrill-a-page novel. And I'm certain there are enough twists and turns to captivate even the most ardent fan of this genre of fiction.