Former hedge fund manager, billionaire Cris De Niro and his new counter-terrorism firm, The Watchman Agency, just prevented a nuclear attack on the city of Las Vegas, but not without cost. Charley Santappia, the Agency's vice president of operations sacrificed his life to save the city.
While at Santappia's funeral, a remorse-filled De Niro announces to his shocked staff that he needs to decide whether he wants to continue with their mission.
In front of Santappia's coffin, the squad leaders of The Watchman Agency's paramilitary arm, ARCHANGEL, decide to raise one last toast to their fallen commander. They're joined by a "small man dressed in black" who is something of a legend to members of the Special Forces. A Delta Forces hero turned rogue operative, respected as much as he was feared...enter Scipio, a very different type of warrior. But could he be the one to replace Santappia?
Back at The Watchman Agency's headquarters, undercover CIA agent Felix Salazar shows up with a problem he brings to his old boss from Langley, now the Agency's V.P. of intelligence services, Michelle Wang. Salazar is convinced that Venezuela has just received a shipment of Iranian medium-range missiles and he thinks he's tracked the missiles to a Venezuelan port closest to the United States. De Niro and company decide to get involved, sending Salazar back to Venezuela to investigate with a fire team from ARCHANGEL as backup.
There is also more strange activity at the border. Soldiers of Tuco Ramirez's Pacifico Drug Cartel have been infiltrating en masse onto the Tohono O'odham reservation. This time, Bryan Ahiga head of the legendary DHS/ICE Shadow Wolves doesn't have his border patrol unit to patrol the tribal lands, so he asks De Niro if his team could lend a hand.
At the same time, De Niro is contacted by his old friend, David Nicholls. The usually incorrigible British playboy is frantic. He just found out that his dear friends were kidnapped by Somali pirates aboard their yacht, and he wants De Niro and his people to rescue them. De Niro is hesitant to offer assistance, but Scipio proposes to take care of it - as long as he can borrow Santana, De Niro's newly battle-equipped mega-yacht and her crew.
The Watchman Agency is spread thin and, once again, on their own!
Cris De Niro & The Watchman Agency return to deal with Somali pirates, an imminent threat from an Iranian/Venezuelan alliance and a Mexican drug cartel's plot of immense proportions.
These are the Signs of War....
©2011 Gerard de Marigny (P)2012 Gerard de Marigny
I like the concept of the Watchman agency, albeit somewhat far-fetched. The overarching plot was interesting, but not as well executed. The continuity seemed to wain at times and I just couldn't get as engaged as I would like. Iranian missiles, Venezuelan involvement, Mexican drug cartel, crooked federal agents... throw in a diving donkey and you have a real spectacle. Make no doubt, I enjoyed the book and the narration by Elijah Alexander really breathes personality into the characters more than almost any other narrator to whom I've listened. But It tries to do too much in too short a period of time. All the different moving parts are very Clancy-esque, but the book is too brief to do them all justice in a manner that adds to the overall story.
I would have dedicated more content to developing the various subplots that eventually come together in a somewhat disjointed manner. It's as if a Saturn V rocket were given the motor of a Mercury Atlas rocket. The Iranians involvement was cursory at best and Mr. de Marigny could have leveraged the "evil" Iranians to really stir the pot, but alas there was no development whatsoever of the Iranian characters, none of which were even named if I recall correctly. The same goes for the Venezuelan involvement. There was insufficient intrigue developed with the Venezuelan connection apart from a couple of Venezuelan "special forces" personnel. The world knows very little about Venezuelan special operations and this book did nothing to add to that. It is easy to pick Venezuela as a protagonist in South America and the Western Hemisphere, but Cuba might have been a better choice as any unfriendly government in North, South or Central America could have been used just as effectively without any real development.
SPOILER ALERT: The Cartel boss' comeuppance was well done, while the comeuppance of the ICE agent in charge was almost anticlimactic.
It already does.
Still a great value and a good read for fans of the genre.
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