Trader of Secrets
Steve Martini’s Trader of Secrets is the 12th book in the Paul Madriani series. In Martini’s latest, attorney Paul Madriani and his law partner, Harry Hinds find themselves pursuing a killer who is determined to kill them as well as Paul’s daughter Sarah.
Trader of Secrets begins with the near-fatal wounding of Madriani’s private investigator, Herman Diggs. As Herman begins to awaken from his surgery, he manages to inform Paul that the killer Liquida (also known as the Mexicutioner) knows the location of Paul’s daughter Sarah, who is safely tucked away in a farmhouse in Ohio being watched over by Harry. Unbeknownst to Paul is the fact that Sarah, having a bad case of cabin fever, has snuck out of the house for a run. She emerges from the house just as Liquida arrives, and a few minutes into her run, is confronted by the killer. Liquida’s attempt to kill Sarah is foiled by the intervention of a protective Doberman. Sarah survives the attack and is moved to an FBI safe house in Washington DC.
While Sarah is cooling her heels in DC, her father, his girlfriend Joselyn, and Harry set out to find Liquida before he can try again. Before the novel concludes, their hunt takes them from their base in California, to D.C., Bangkok, Paris and the jungles of Mexico.
In the meantime another storyline develops involving two Scientists from NASA, who upon hearing that the project they have been working on for years is about to be scuttled, make plans to sell the project to another country. Shortly after their arrival at a Paris convention, they’re kidnapped, and it doesn’t take long for their storyline to intersect with that of Paul and Liquida.
There are a number of flaws and inconsistencies that exist within the secondary characters, that I found distracting. First and foremost are the two NASA scientists, neither of whom have much personality to generate any interest in the reader. Liquida, the novels’ antagonist is described by one character as having a cold, blank stare, as if there were no candles lit behind his eyes. Liquida actually displays a wry sense of humor at one point in the action.
Paul, Harry, Joselyn and Herman are well known to Martini fans, having appeared in previous books in the series (the contract killer Liquida has appeared in two other books in the series as well). Their dialogue and repartee with one another is witty and believable, however, I found myself wishing for a stronger, clearer plot. Martini has said to have grown tired of Paul Madriani at times, and I got a sense of that in this novel. I found Trader of Secrets to be a disappointing read, dragging at times and predictable at others.