Book - Whirlwind
A James Bond for the AARP set, unjustly disgraced ex-CIA agent Charlie McKenzie is called out of forced retirement when a secret weapon known as Whirlwind is stolen by gorgeous Russian spy Irina. Ever the knight-errant, he decides to protect Irina against the corrupt national security adviser and the evil South African mercenary who are also pursuing her. Much bickering ensues between the paternal Charlie and the feistily independent Irina, who has father issues, until, as they are picking off henchmen with a sniper rifle, a platonic May-December romance blossoms. Garber (Vertical Run) slathers on pure Hollywood cliché, as the story proceeds inexorably from trash-talking confrontation to climactic gasoline explosion, powered by a villain who is such a Teutonic effigy of exquisite politeness and barbaric cruelty that one wonders why he isn't wearing a monocle. But the trash-talk is snappy, the villain is deliciously hateful and the plot, fast-paced enough to leap over its own holes, leaves little time to reflect on the implausibility of Charlie's feats of ratiocination, or to note that his and Irina's problems are often caused by their own special-ops showboating. Charlie, a cocky, white-haired juggernaut adored by his family, effortlessly superior to his younger antagonists and still capable of arousing—and chivalrously deflecting—the passions of 20-something Russian babes, makes a gratifying fantasy hero.