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The Protector    by David Morrell order for
by David Morrell
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2003 (2003)
Hardcover, Audio

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Fear becomes both a weapon and a major liability in David Morrell's explosive new thriller, The Protector. It begins with a riot at a World Trade Organization protest. Then there's a Delta Force training exercise that runs amok. How are the two linked? It takes a while to find out. In the meantime we join Cavanaugh on an easy new mission, in which the reader learns a great deal of security tradecraft from this Protector protagonist.

Cavanaugh's client, biochemist Daniel Prescott, wants to disappear. He is fearful and it seems he has good reason, as the pair come under heavy attack the moment they meet from two different groups - one who seems to want to capture Prescott and the other to kill him. Prescott tells Cavanaugh a tale of a drug lord who is after the results of his addiction research. The protection agent calls in for help and, after exciting car chase sequences made for the big screen, he and Prescott are helicoptered to a camouflaged retreat in the Catskills.

But their pursuers have surprising resources, the heat builds up to an inferno, the Protective Services team is decimated, and Cavanaugh barely escapes alive. Not knowing who to trust, he calls on his wife, Jamie Travers, whom he once saved from the mob after she testified about a gangland killing. Jamie shows a natural talent for the trade and together they work to understand how this disaster happened, who is responsible, and who was powerful enough to engineer a news cover-up.

After consulting and then rescuing an FBI contact of Cavanaugh's, the duo follows clues that lead to Carmel on the West coast. There is a musical chairs shuffle of alliances and betrayals, and Cavanaugh learns new lessons in protection priorities and in the meaning of fear. Don't start reading The Protector late in the day as it's an adrenaline rush, with an explosive start and action that takes off racing and doesn't decelerate till the very last pages.

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