Extreme Denial by David Morrell

Decker works as an intelligence operative for the United States and is extremely good at what he does. After a disastrous operation messed up by a new recruit under Decker’s watch, he decides he has had just about enough of the anonymous gypsy life. And so he quits his job and impulsively takes off to Santa Fe in New Mexico, falling in love with its sprawling, sunny landscape. He starts working as a real estate agent and meets Beth Dwyer- a beautiful woman with a damaging past. Their whirlwind two month romance, however, ends with a dangerous midnight encounter following which Beth mysteriously disappears. Decker is now left with a bunch of urgent questions about the woman he loves: where did she go and why? Who was she? Was she just using him? Is there more to it? Can he save her before she ends up dead?

Extreme Denial was a rather formulaic novel commensurate with romance, crime, action and containing all the elements needed to get this stuff going: explosives, double agents, guns, sex, gorgeous women with deadly secrets and so forth. The story begins all right- a messed up operation, a spur-of-the-moment purchase in a captivating town, the entry of Beth and a magical romance. I also enjoyed the night-time encounter that changes the pace of the story.

But beyond the encounter, the plot begins to droop slowly. By that point, there were plenty of interesting turns that the story could have taken to remain engaging. Instead, action is given precedence over suspense and the whole thing starts to fall apart. Two hundred pages in, I had given up hopes of something exciting twisting the story into a new direction. Even then I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt until I reached the ending, despite sensing that nothing different was coming up.

So it was one of those books that you can consume in one easy day and be done and over with. The protagonists were likeable, if unchiselled but the book’s summary did not leave me with a lot of expectations in that department to begin with. The antagonists on the other hand, were psychopathic madmen without an ounce of rationality in their crass agendas. The plot was founded on rather crude objectives.

Rating: 2/5 stars.


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