by Stephen Coonts, William H. Keith, Deborah Coonts

St. Martin’s Press, $25.99, 400 pages

Coonts and Keith take international espionage and terrorism to a whole, new level. Set in Southern Asia and the beautiful Canary Islands, a high-tech United States national security team, known as Deep Black, attempts to prevent a worldwide catastrophic nuclear, geological incident.

Operatives are told that ten, suitcase-size nuclear warheads have been stolen by the Russian Mafia. The team’s mission is to find the weapons before they are smuggled out of Central Asia. The authors manage to eloquently bundle: the murder of a best-selling author, the smuggling of a Russian love-interest, and seismic activity off the coast of Morocco into compelling shoot-em-up fast-paced intrigue.

The story has all the elements of a best-selling thriller. The bad guys are Islamic extremists, collaborating with Russians and Chinese. The good guys are Americans: some naturalized Russians, some white-collar beltway types, and  ex-military special ops. Love and honor underpin the psyche of our heroes while worldwide domination and economic greed spur the antagonists. And of course, what would any good espionage book be without female spies who aren’t afraid to use sex appeal as a deadly weapon. Anything for your country, right?

Reviewed by Sheli Ellsworth