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THE AFGHAN by Frederick Forsyth

THE AFGHAN

By Frederick Forsyth

Pub Date: Aug. 22nd, 2006
ISBN: 0-399-15394-2
Publisher: Putnam

The Forsyth Formula, al-Qaeda version: A sort of post-9/11 apocalyptic western, this thriller pits White Guys against Black Turbans, the daring forces of freedom versus the jihadi doers of evil.

Should Hasbro ever decide it needs a new G.I. Joe, Mike Martin’s their man. The latest action figure from the Forsyth franchise (Avenger, 2003, etc.), he’s a craggy Scot summoned from a wee bit of rest and relaxation at his Hampshire retreat back into the endless global fray. The listening department of Pakistan’s Counter-Terrorism Center has, through cell-phone surveillance, unearthed a plot. One of Osama bin Laden’s financiers has already, clutching his laptop, hurled himself from a balustrade to protect the plans. Hi-tech British cunning retrieves the info, which reveals schemes for “Al Isra,” the biggest potential attack yet. To penetrate al-Qaeda, U.K./U.S. intelligence makes a mole of Martin, passing him off as Izmat Khan, ex-Taliban bigwig serving time in Gitmo. Mirror images of each other, the men are archetypal warriors, Khan a stoic Afghan outraged by the Russian invasion of his country and conned by desperation into bin Laden’s service, Martin a 25-year veteran of killing missions—the Falklands, the Balkans, the Middle East. Plus, passing for Khan is easy for multilingual Martin, son of an oil-company executive stationed in Iraq. He even looks the part: “olive-skinned, black-haired and eyed, lean and very hard of physique.” Martin’s mission earns him martyrdom, but only after all kinds of derring-do involving a ship called The Countess of Richmond, characters screaming “Eject, eject!” and a cameo appearance by John Negroponte.

Gun-club porn—packed with stodgily accurate descriptions of weapons and acronymic slang. Hardly subtle, just bang-bang galore.