In Jack Higgins's new Mafia, no one wears gold chains or carries a tommy gun. Deals are done quietly and often resemble those in the "legal" business world. In fact, the tentacles of the Cosa Nostra extend into the most public of industries, including TV, film, and publishing. When Truth magazine reporter Katherine Johnson starts looking too closely at the life of millionaire socialite and mob boss Jack Fox, however, the veneer of gentility dissolves immediately. Her body is found one morning floating in the East River, and the coroner suspects foul play.
Wrenched by the pain of his loss, her ex-husband--former FBI agent Blake Johnson--decides to take the law into his own hands. In fact, as part of the secret White House department known as The Basement, Blake actually has the president's permission to take out Fox in the best way he sees fit. As Blake begins his Fox hunt, Day of Reckoning evolves into an international duel between the masterminds of justice and criminality. Blake struggles to exact his revenge by slowly undermining his opponents' businesses. And Fox matches him at every turn.
While the contest between the power brokers is compelling on the surface, Higgins is unable to infuse his characters with enough life to make the story as engaging as it might have been. The heroes and villains borrow heavily from the classic James Bond play book, complete with brandy snifters, brandname cigarettes, Saville Row suits, and secret, world-dominating empires. It's fun to read as a sort of homage to thrillers of the early Cold War period, but Day of Reckoning never matches the success of such earlier Higgins greats as The Eagle Has Landed and seems to fall all too frequently into cliché. --Patrick O'Kelley