In the not too distant future, a coalition of international groups is planning a return to the gold standard in resolving a global recession. A criminal network of drug cartels and financial speculators are plotting to convert their holdings into bullion before launching attacks against major gold depositories in three countries to give them a monopoly in the new market.
MI6 agent William Shanahan sees the mission to thwart the criminals as a chance to land an executive desk job in London. His job is to infiltrate the network with the aid of UDA gunman Jack Gawain, whose assignment is to distract and overcome the cartel’s top assassin, Enrique Chupacabra. Though challenged in overcoming a personal dislike for Gawain, Shanahan finds himself backing Gawain’s bold initiatives in creating chaos in Chupacabra’s inner circle.
Shanahan is conflicted by his inner need to maintain a higher moral standard than Gawain. Yet after a car bombing, an armed robbery and a strangulation, Shanahan realizes that his superiors’ tacit approval shows they will stop at nothing to derail the criminal enterprise. Shanahan follows Gawain’s lead and finds himself in direct contact with a representative of the Sardinian Mob as well as Chupacabra himself.
Shanahan and Gawain follow Chupacabra to Miami where Gawain enters a million-dollar domino game against Chupacabra. When another female member of Chupacabra’s entourage is murdered, he suspects that Gawain’s presence is more than a coincidence. He decides to play mind games with Gawain by recruiting Fianna Hesher, his gal pal, as the newest addition to his clique. Keeping her away from Gawain makes him realize that not only Chupacabra is onto him, but is using Fianna as a hostage.
MI6 learns that the cartel plans to detonate a ‘dirty bomb’ near Fort Knox to sabotage the US gold surplus, and sends the team in to abort the mission. Gawain escapes a double-cross after the bombers are foiled, though Shanahan is nearly killed by a Chupacabra hit squad. Shanahan manages to convince Gawain to take his place on a team destined for Iran to foil yet another attack: a missile strike on the gold bank in Zurich. The MI6 team is successful, and Shanahan and Gawain are both decorated for their service to Queen and Country.
The morality theme resonates throughout the novel as Shanahan struggles with the complexity of legal and moral issues presented throughout the mission. There is also the psychological conflict of Shanahan’s need to prove himself worthy of a higher station, trying to overcome his working-class background through superior mental, physical and moral prowess. It gives place to the action/adventure main event pitting the UK and the USA against the criminal enterprise, trying to foil Operation Blackout lest it gains control over the global economy by destroying the Anglo-Americans’ financial infrastructure.
For action/adventure fans and suspense/thriller buffs, The Standard is a tale not to be forgotten.