Corte, the protagonist of Jeffery Deaver's new thriller, is a "shepherd" for a shadowy Alexandria-based organization known for offering "bodyguards of last resort."
His job involves watching over "principals" — trial witnesses, whistle-blowers and others — who have been targeted either by "hitters" (assassins) or by "lifters" seeking information and willing to resort to "physical extraction" to get it. The jargon suggests that this agency is another of today's deadening, dehumanizing bureaucracies — and the truth is, those "principals" are considered by their shepherds as just so many packages. But the work takes on even bleaker tones when the bad guys enter the picture. For them, torture is simply part of an afternoon's chores: filing another corpse in the "out" box.
Corte's latest assignment poses several problems. D.C. cop Ryan Kessler can't fathom why he has been targeted: Does a forgery case involving a Pentagon analyst threaten national security? Is an apparent Ponzi scheme a front for funding terrorism? Equally pressing: The lifter here, Henry Loving, murdered Corte's mentor, and Corte is torn between the conflicting duties of babysitting his charges and bringing a killer to justice.
Along with a complex investigation and a dangerous cat-and-mouse game, Edge also boasts some high-stakes political drama: pressure both from the attorney general's office, boosting its own agenda with Kessler's case, and from a Senate Intelligence Committee inquiry into Corte's methods.
Rumors are that Edge might kick off a new series for Deaver — a new direction from his Lincoln Rhyme detective novels and his spinoff series featuring interrogation expert Kathryn Dance. Corte's combination of professionalism and duplicity offer the chance for conflicts, both internal and external, to deepen. In the meantime, Deaver has been commissioned to write the next James Bond novel — a golden opportunity he has clearly earned.