Kyle Mills

Coronet £6.99 pbk

Reviewed by John Escott

How to eliminate the drug problem in America? Invent a secret organisation called the Committee for a Drug Free Society, take advertising space in the major newspapers warning that you are about to put poisoned drugs into the supply chain and that anyone using narcotics after a certain date will die - then do just that! Within weeks, thousands of addicts are dying, which in turn acts as a powerful deterrent for those still remaining. In no time, the demand for narcotics nosedives and drug rehabilitation units are filling up by the hour.
This simple but original premise is at the core of a fast-moving thriller by American author, Kyle Mills (the book comes with a glowing recommendation from Tom Clancy, no less!).
Ex Drug Enforcement Agency agent, John Hobart, persuades extreme right-wing TV evangelist Simon Blake to secretly finance the seemingly crazy but surprisingly effective plan. Blake soon comes to regret his decision but by then it`s too late.
FBI agent, Mark Beamon, has to wrestle with the consequences of this morally ambiguous crime - a country divided in to pro and anti CDFS - at the same time as trying to unearth the villains behind the scheme. Beamon gets little help from the US President, who has to appear to back the FBI whilst being aware that many Americans wholly approve of ridding the streets of the druggies. The President, like most politicians, has paid lip service to the ever-growing problem of drugs and crime for years. Now somebody has come up with an effective, if controversial, solution.
Some characters suffer from being stereotypical and the arch-villain, Hobart, tends to overshadow the `hero`, agent Mark Beamon, but none of this detracts from a roller-coaster narrative and a satisfying ending.