Kyle Mills is the author of Sphere of Influence, Burn Factor, Free Fall, Storming Heaven, and Rising Phoenix.
Nearly buried by a blizzard of pre-publication hype, this debut nonetheless emerges as a fine thriller with memorable characters and enough twists to keep readers turning pages. Mills is not yet in the league of Len Deighton, John le Carré or even Tom Clancy, whose glowing recommendation takes top billing over the author's name on the galley proofs. Still, as the son of a former FBI agent and director of Interpol (Clancy calls Mills père an "old friend"), he knows how to flesh out an original premise with absorbing descriptions of FBI work. When megalomaniac televangelist Simon Blake declares his own war on drugs, his security chief, John Hobart, a ruthless ex-DEA agent, manages to poison large cocaine shipments using a rare European fungus. After drug users start dying in epidemic fashion, the FBI sends for agent Mark Beamon, who has been consigned to virtual exile in Houston by a prissy director uncomfortable with his unorthodox methods. Generally acknowledged to be the best detective in the bureau, Beamon was also briefly partnered with Hobart and knows his adversary is a sadistic killer. The ensuing international hunt for Hobart attracts the DEA, a Colombian drug lord and a New York Mafia don. Complicating matters, a rising percentage of Americans begin to side with the poisoners. Ultimately, Beamon must face down Hobart alone. Mills vividly renders people and places, especially Washington's gritty South East housing projects. Although Beamon comes across as more procedurally thorough than inspired, he possesses a raffish charm and a flair for the off-the-cuff remark. Mills is definitely someone to watch. $300,000 ad/promo; HarperAudio; U.K., translation, dramatic rights: William Morris. (Aug.)
"[Rising Phoenix is] chillingly effective and suspenseful."--Kirkus Reviews