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Derek Hart um Ísland - The Crooked Cross Factor

Ég rakst á Derek Hart, rithöfund sem skrifar á međal annars skáldsögur, ţar sem atburđir gerast á  Íslandi. 

Eitt er fyrir víst. Karlinn er međ ágćta heimildir innanlands, reyndar mikiđ Íslands vinur.  Hér fyrir neđan er texti á ensku fyrir ţá áhugasamt fólk. Hér má einnig bćta ađ heimildir segja ađ bók er ţegar gefiđ út á ensku og spánsku. Tvö Evrópu lönd eru ađ undirbúa sig undir útgáfu, en ekki Ísland eins og stađan er.  Derek Hart stefnir á myndatöku sem fram má fara á Íslandi. 




     When he got stuffed in prison for failing, despite his best efforts, to prevent a terrorist assault on the US embassy in Saigon, Derek Smith figured he'd pretty much hit bottom.  But when an old teacher muscles him into Iceland's embassy to spy on an old friend, he begins to see that he was wrong.  Things have definitely gotten worse.  Not only does he not want to think Karl Rolvaag is doubling for the Soviet Union, but he hasn't the slightest desire to try doing this latest job under the eyes, and the fingers, of all the varied players he soon discovers to be sharing the glorious northern locale.  Looks like Old Home Week, one way and another, except that Derek doesn't trust most of these characters, both personally and professionally. 

     A lot. 

     But nobody wants to hear his doubts.  Just get the job done.

     Naturally, complications multiply.  Immediately.  First there's the succulent Minister of Roads, Ms. Hugrún Eiriksdottir, formidably competent and voraciously interested, not just in Derek's body, but in his whereabouts as well.  Not exactly convenient when you're more or less working undercover.  Then there's the armed kidnap of the ambassador's daughter from the embassy itself, which casts a pretty dim light on the performance of the agent in charge of security.  Namely him.  Pursuing that trail proves even more problematic, since it turns up a Soviet nuclear submarine whose crew want to defect.  Of course, everybody and their dog is looking for the sub, with an eye to blowing them out of the water.  Not good, since Jennifer Rolvaag is being held on that ship.  Add another burden to an already burdensome job, and pile on a few bodies stumbled upon here and there, the apparently urgent desire of just about everybody on the island to do him some sort of physical harm, and the ticking clock of obviously escalating tensions and unfriendly agendas, and you have a job you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. 

     Derek is not a quitter, but he's forced to admit that a lot of the luster of Special Service has worn off by now, more is wearing off with every clout on the head, and even the sex is beginning to be a bit much.  Not that he's old, but retirement's beginning to look more and more seductive, if only he can bust this case, keep the death toll reasonably modest, and ferret out the real spook at the bottom of all the leaks he's only supposed to graze the surface of.  Derek has never dealt well with authority, so stepping on toes won't bother him much, so long as he doesn't step on the wrong ones too soon.  Hard to keep score without a game-card.

     flag_iceland.jpgI loved Derek--coincidence that he's the author's namesake?  Written mostly from his point of view, the narrative has much the flavor of this baked-to-a-crackly-crunch hero, while showing you also the marshmallow center that makes him so good at his job.  It's a Real Life kind of dichotomy, translated splendidly to the pages of a thriller with plenty of breath-stealing fits and starts.  There's nothing much smooth about this roller-coaster, but it has everything you took the ride for: surprise, heroism, betrayal, violence, mystery, threat, a little sex, and the potential for World War III.  Particularly I loved Minister Hugrún, who just would not stop, and just could not let go of Smith, no matter what her doubts.  In the true spirit of her Viking ancestors, she was determined to prevail, which fact proves both a help and a hindrance to our poor, beleaguered hero.  Nonetheless, he soldiers on, digging inexorably for the kernel of truth buried in the growing volcano of lies and half-truths, uneasy alliances and temporary truces, enemies and partisans, friend and foe.  While there's a rough spot or two, here and there, in the narrative, and while I may personally doubt that the hero could actually have survived so many adventures as pack the covers of the book, I have to say that I tremendously enjoyed chasing along with Derek Smith in his quest to save the world for "truth, justice and the American Way."  I think you will, too.


     Kaththea Spurlock

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