By Al Pessin
Reviewed by Sue Wilder
A delegation from the U. S. Defense Intelligence Agency is returning from a meeting in the U.K. Their plane is blown to bits by a bomb that was planted in a backpack. The Secretary of Defense is one of the casualties. It is quickly determined that the Taliban is behind the attack. In fact, the Taliban is planning another attack on the U.S.
Bridget Davenport, a member of the Pentagon's covert ops section is tasked with finding and disabling the terrorist mastermind planning the attack. She initiates Operation Sandblast which calls for infiltration of the Taliban.
Bridget selects Lt. Faraz Abdallah, an Afghan American from California, to join the Taliban. He must be accepted by the terrorists and become one of them. At the same time he must retain his allegiance to the U.S. and the mission.
Conflict abounds as the U.S. government all the way up to the President, try to second guess the plan and Bridget's implementation of the mission. Bridget must run Faraz from the U.S. and navigate the bureaucracy that she had tried to leave during her military service.
Mr. Pessin has written a thriller that grabs the reader from the very first chapter's description of the planting of the bomb by a terrorist. He expertly conveys the absolute dedication of a terrorist's mind. The characters are well drawn and their motivations are realistic. The plot barrels along at full throttle.
Mr. Pessin's background as a foreign correspondent, broadcaster and editor in evident in the clarity of his storytelling. He travels around the world included stints on the White House and Pentagon press corps. His vivid images of Afghanistan are genuine.
Sandblast is the first installment in the Task Force Epsilon trilogy. A good read for fans of military thrillers and authors like Alex Berensen.Signed
printing KEN $8.99
By Donna Leon
Reviewed by Stephanie Saxon Levine
In this newest Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery, a young, dying hospice patient states that her husband was murdered over "bad money." Commissario Brunetti promises he and his colleague, Claudia Griffoni, will look into her claim. They discover that the man had worked collecting samples of contamination for a company that measures the cleanliness of Venice's water supply, and that he had recently died in a mysterious motorcycle accident. Brunetti sees the perilous meaning in the woman's accusation and the threat it reveals to the health of the entire region. But justice in this case proves to be challenging.
Trace Elements brings the reader along with Brunetti and his colleagues as they seek to determine motive and perpetrator in the young husband's death as well as the implications his murder might have related to the safety of Venice's water sources. Leon's books always widen the reader's horizons by looking into some aspect of contemporary Venetian life. Certainly, the purity of their drinking water must be a concern to readers the world over, and it is intriguing to see where Brunetti's investigation leads him and us.
Another fascinating aspect of Leon's books is the relationship of Brunetti to his family, for the author leads us into her protagonist's home life, where, frequently, husband and wife discuss his cases. Brunetti and Paola are a very literate and well-educated couple, and Brunetti often detects connections to literature in the cases he works to solve. In this case, he reflects upon Aeschylus's classic play, The Eumenides, which he is rereading.
While accompanying Brunetti in his work, we gain insights into life in Venice,and opportunities to compare the techniques of Brunetti and Griffoni. This, in addition to reading a suspenseful mystery,packed with fascinating characters is only a partial list of the many charms of Trace Elements. Atlantic Monthly Press, $27.00
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