At the heart of this book is a very well-constructed tale that should by rights hit all the grace notes required for intrigue, suspense, drama and everything else that makes a good read. It starts brilliantly; before you've really had chance to draw breath the protagonist Harland is laden on all sides with shady dealings and unanswered questions that should set up a breathless pursuit of the truth.
Unfortunately, it doesn't live up to its promise largely on account of the turgid writing. Porter doesn't seem capable of identifying the key moments of tension and intrigue in his own story - chapters meander up to and away from multiple revelations as if on a Sunday stroll around the supermarket and then end at seemingly arbitrary points of little or no consequence. When we should be rocked back on our heels at how events are unfolding, and how enmeshed in each others' lives his characters are, instead a moment of inattention will cause you to miss something that the characters themselves barely react to most of the time. And it's not just like this for one or two things, it's on pretty much every page; people die, motives are revealed, agencies plot and manipulate...and at no point do you really feel that anyone cares.
It's like the first draft of a far better novel, as if Porter sat down and took a deep breath and just typed and typed and typed until all his ideas were down and was then too exhausted to tidy it up once he'd finished. And that's a real shame, because if you can stick with it this has a very well-observed and developed story at its core that you're just never encouraged to take much interest in. As a second novel on this sort of subject - and one written a decade ago, no less, in which time a lot has changed - it probably just about passes muster, but I'd advise anyone new to Porter to start on his later work (which I've not read, but he's clearly got more talent than is in evidence here) and then come back to this.