Top critical review
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on 13 December 2005
Goodyear can thank the gods of serendipity that it wasn't involved in this caper in which super terrorist Carlos the Jackal, the IRA, and two renegade ex-SEAL snipers team-up to cause international havoc at a Baltimore Orioles baseball game while being chased by the FBI, Secret Service, MI5, and an out-of-shape, former SAS non-com.
THE LONG SHOT has two main protagonists, Special Agent Howard Cole of the FBI and former SAS Sergeant Mike "Joker" Cramer. The reader's primary allegiance may perhaps become divided, though what the latter endures at the hands of the diabolical IRA torturer, Mary Hennessy, makes him #1 on my list of Tough Guys. Cole, like many American males, only has an insufferable father-in-law, a drinking problem, a less-than-supportive wife, and a backstabbing, ambitious subordinate. And speaking of Hennessy, her eventual end is way too easy and unsatisfying. (Mary's persona makes me wonder whom author Stephen Leather subliminally used as her character model. An ex-wife or old girlfriend, perhaps?)
Despite the relative implausibility of the plot and an improbable ending, involving a blimp and one of the Good Guys dangling from a helicopter, that was better suited to a Hollywood Big Screen SFX orgasm, THE LONG SHOT does provide suspenseful moments of above-average entertainment. However, Leather here, to my mind, departs from his usual forte, which is to place his chief protagonist in a smaller arena of conflict that has repercussions that are more personal than global. It's this departure, and an overabundance of players, which makes this potboiler more standard fare than other Leather thrillers I've read. Stephen, I'm sorry, but three stars are the best I can manage. (But I'll keep buying and reading your books!)