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The central conceit of recent films like True Lies and Spy Kids has been seeming mundane husbands, wives, and parents who turn out to be top secret agents. John Maxim goes them one better and imagines that much of Westport, Connecticut is peopled by semi-retired agents, loosely led by Paul Bannerman, who have all gotten out of the game (almost) and are trying to settle down to stable marriages, child-rearing, running small shops, and an especially adept neighborhood watch program.

In this entry in the successful series, Bannerman has to set his travel agency business to one side just long enough to deal with Artemus Bourne, a megalomaniacal villain (is there any other kind) who's threatening Westport with a bioterror attack because he wants help finding famed assassin Elizabeth Stride, the Black Angel, a former colleague of Bannerman, whose supposedly-dead ex-boyfriend, an East German named Martin Kessler, has interfered in his African diamond and arms smuggling business. The interference in this case takes the form of sending Bourne the heads of three evil minions. Bannerman's "Ghosts", so called because they've disappeared from the world of black-ops, are galvanized into reasonably exciting action amidst presumably tongue-in-cheek worries about their domestic situations. Mr. Maxim utilizes just enough realistic background setting--like the genuine threat of Marburg virus--to give the story weight, but a light enough touch to keep it amusing, rather than melodramatic.

Fans will be gratified that he brings together characters from a host of his prior books, while newcomers will have no trouble catching up. It's brisk entartainment with just a hint of satire, or so one assumes.


Grade: (B)


See also:

John Maxim Links:

    -BOOK SITE: Bannerman's Ghosts (Written Voices)
    -BOOK SITE: Bannerman's Ghosts (Harper Collins)
    -INTERVIEW: with John R. Maxim (Readers Read, March, 2003)
    -John R. Maxim Home Page
    -JOHN R. MAXIM (Stop, You're Killing Me)
    -BIBLIO: John Maxim (Fantastic Fiction)
    -REVIEW: of The Bannerman Solution by John Maxim (JP, Mystery Guide)
    -REVIEW: of Whistler's Angel (Ted Hertel, deadly Pleasures)
    -REVIEW: of Haven by John Maxim
Book-related and General Links: