The White House Connection
The Irish peace process is at risk because of the actions of a heartbroken mother in Higgins’s 29th thriller. American-born and married to a British lord, 60-ish Lady Helen Lang, the “nicest person you’ll ever meet,” has taken it upon herself to avenge the brutal death of her son, Peter, at the hands of the Sons of Erin, a fringe Irish-nationalist group led by a psychotic Vietnam vet and with operatives in Dublin, London and the U.S. Other members include gangster Tim Pat Ryan, IRA terrorist Jack Barry, U.S. Senator Michael Cohan and a mysterious member known only as the Connection, who is revealed to be a mole in the White House. With nothing more than an old government file, a modified computer and a .25 revolver, Lady Helen makes short work of most of these villains, managing at one point to knock off three of them in four paragraphs. Naturally, this wholesale violence attracts the attention of Higgins regulars Brigadier Charles Ferguson and Sean Dillon, who try to protect Senator Cohan during his upcoming visit to London. It’s not giving away any surprises to reveal that eventually the bad guys get theirs, but there are precious few surprises here, and a bloodless, cartoonish quality to everything from the dialogue to the killings. Higgins’s attempt at characterizations are unpersuasive at bestAto prove that she’s really a decent sort, Lady Helen passes up a chance to kill Senator Cohan in favor of shooting a couple of muggersAand as usual, Sean Dillon’s prowess as a gunman includes the ability to outshoot men who have already drawn a gun on him. As for the style, everything is fast, flat and featureless, like driving a car on cruise control in Kansas.