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Blindfold Game    by Dana Stabenow order for
Blindfold Game
by Dana Stabenow
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, CD
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I have long been an ardent fan of Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak series (like many others, I like the indomitable strength of character of her heroine) and have also enjoyed her Liam Campbell mysteries. She's exploring new territory in Blindfold Game, with high seas adventure, rather surprising terrorists, and a married couple, whose careers mandate a long-distance relationship, as leads.

The novel is aptly introduced (and could be summarized) by a Rudyard Kipling verse from The Destroyers - 'Girdled and desperate we dare / The blindfold game of war.' Hugh Rincon and his wife, Sara Lange, grew up in south-central Alaska, were childhood sweethearts, married, and then found their respective careers - he works for the CIA and she's a Coast Guard executive officer on patrol off Alaska aboard the Sojourner Truth - keep them apart most of the time. Retired journalist Arlene Harte, who works for Hugh, is at the scene of a terrorist bombing in Thailand and follows two Asian men (who were acting suspiciously) to a meeting with international pirates. The trail from there leads to an arms dealer in Moscow and an order for cesium, with application in the manufacture of a dirty bomb. Unable to convince the CIA director of an imminent threat, Hugh heads to Hong Kong with Arlene (whose grandmotherly appearance belies her ruthlessness) to dig further. They uncover a Korean connection that sends Hugh onward to Anchorage, unbeknownst to his CIA bosses.

There's a Trojan horse act of piracy, plenty of violence, and derring-do on the high seas. Sara exhibits the strength we've come to expect from Stabenow's female characters, and Hugh has an active role to play as well. Weather and communications failures leave a chase at sea as the only course to pursue, in attempting to stop a devastating act of terrorism against a U.S. city. The action is gripping. And, though I found the spycraft in Hong Kong slick and amateurish, I enjoyed Blindfold Game, and hope the author continues to write thrillers, as well as giving us more of Kate Shugak.

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