In an attempt to join the lofty heights of ‘Spy Fiction’ idols Ian Fleming (James Bond), Charles McCarry (Paul Christopher), John le Carré, Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy, Thomas Caplan and his Movie Star Spy, Ty Hunter, aim for the sun, but like Icarus he rapidly falls.
The Spy Who Jumped Off the Screen: A Novel opens with a home invasion in one of rural Kansas City’s wealthiest homes belonging to one of the wealthiest men in the world. But this is no ordinary home invasion nor home invader.
The first approximately 40 pages develops a sense of place, introduces action and excellent character development, which is done so well you’ll be close to adding these characters to your Christmas card list, but, sadly, it has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the story except to introduce a minor character that the story could have done without and a freighter that you will not get to know beyond the fact it carries an elicit cargo.
It does serve as an entry for the longest preface in history.
The real story involves Ty Hunter, the worlds biggest movie star who is recruited by none other than the President of the United States to investigate the possible disappearance of a nuclear missile in the decommissioning of a post Soviet Missile base.
The suspected thief of these nuclear warheads is yet another of the world's wealthiest men, Ian Santal. Santal made a name for himself, firstly, as a man of science as a professor at England’s Cambridge University. After his academic acclaim, he turned his hand to the stock market and made billions. Now, in his third incarnation, he is an international man of mystery, and broker of illicit nuclear devices.
Another suspect is Phillip Frost, an M.I.T. Grad who decided to join Santal’s financial firm out of college and who until just recently was on the U.N. Team certifying nuclear devices as decommissioned. This unlikely and slightly fantastical pair of villains would have made Fleming blush, although clearly Caplan was paying homage to Fleming’s Thunderball (Santal owns, and a good deal of the action takes place on a super high tech yacht). Caplan even references the James Bond movies in the form of a supporting character who supplies our hero with high tech gadgets, but he even fails here as well, mistaking ‘M’ for ‘Q’. The reader would, I think, expect a spy novelist to know this.