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Rules of Deception, by Christopher Reich (Read by Paul Michael)

Dedicated to helping others as a surgeon for Doctors Without Borders, Dr. Jonathan Ransom has not vacationed in years. When he is transferred back to the home office in Switzerland, it seems like the perfect opportunity to take his wife, Emma, on a ski vacation in the Alps. Tragedy strikes when Emma falls and breaks her leg. Reluctantly, Jonathan leaves her to go for help, but when he returns, he finds that she has crawled away and fallen into a bottomless crevasse. Returning to their hotel after her death, he receives a package containing baggage claim checks, and his grief is compounded by confusion as he discovers that Emma was not who she purported to be. In his quest to solve the mystery of his wife's secret life, he stumbles into a deadly web of murder, deceit and international espionage. As he tries to extricate himself, he finds himself hunted by good guys, bad guys, friends, foes and his own uncertainties.

Christopher Reich set out to write a thriller, and he has written a superb one. The main character, sympathetic and likeable, becomes the ultimate underdog when he is wrongly accused of a crime and pursued by both the authorities and the terrorists. Just when it seems that he couldn't possibly elude the police or the killers again, he demonstrates the ability to tap his creative genius to come up with another escape. Paul Michael's narration provides the right amount of intensity and sensitivity so that the audio experience is relaxing and entertaining and not a non-stop adrenalin rush.

Rules of Deception is a perfect audio book for either solitary or joint listening. The situations and covert agencies Reich describes invite both contemplation by a lone listener or discussion by an entire group. It would be naïve to believe that "black ops" and operators don't really exist in this country and around the world, and this book dispels that myth. Rules of Deception is a timely, gut-wrenching reminder that as we become global citizens we gain enemies as well as friends. With heroes like Jonathan Ransom, though, the future is secure.

Ruth Mormon

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