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City of War    by Neil Russell order for
City of War
by Neil Russell
Order:  USA  Can
Harper, 2010 (2010)
Paperback, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The ruthless, larger than life hero of Neil Russell's City of War reminded me of The Saint, except that ex-Delta Force commando Rail Black is a billionaire (heir to a media empire), operating (mostly) out in the open in Beverly Hills. Rail still grieves over the death of his fiancée Sanrevelle in an explosion engineered by an enemy of his family.

The story starts with an L.A. traffic jam (caused by a quake and a crash). Russell opens with: 'A naked woman running full tilt through ankle-deep water in a freeway carpool lane isn't something you see every day.' Rail watches as Kimberly York escapes from a blue Ford van and runs for her life. Of course, Rail rescues her, takes her back to his mansion, and is naturally curious about her story.

Kim, who is an art historian at the Getty Museum, reveals a little and hides a lot about her kidnapping, and what was behind it. And she refuses to call the authorities. After Rail tracks down a fellow motorist who took snapshots of the kidnappers' van, people start to die. Rail is shot himself by a young assassin with a spider tattoo (similar to that of one of Kim's kidnappers).

Once he recovers, Rail will stop at nothing to get to the bottom of the mystery - and he's not short of resources. Kim's half sister, scarred ex-supermodel Archer Cayne, pushes her way in to his investigation and his life. Killers are hot on their heels every step of the way. What they uncover includes a sabotaged airliner, state secrets, art forgery, and a Corsican mafia boss who specializes in death by hyenas.

Like a James Bond thriller, Neil Russell's City of War takes readers on an extreme rollercoaster ride of jet set thrills and chills, often improbable but always entertaining. It would make quite the movie.

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