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RUNNING THE MAZE by Jack  Coughlin



Pub Date: March 13th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-312-55495-8
Publisher: St. Martin's

Mohammad al-Attas is a genius construction engineer in service of jihad. He is also a Djinn, a blood-thirsty demon. Not to worry. Special-ops sniper USMC Gunnery Sergeant Kyle Swanson has al-Attas in his sights.

But Swanson can’t complete the mission alone. Coast Guard Petty Officer Second Class Beth Ledford can put a round into the engine of a Somali pirate launch from a moving helicopter, and she has a personal motive for parachuting into the wild Pakistan-Afghanistan border with Swanson. Her brother was a humanitarian-aid doctor there when he was murdered, but not before sending Beth an intriguing digital photograph. Beth thinks her brother stumbled onto a terrorist enterprise secreted within a massive bridge-building project, but no one takes her seriously until she contacts a military mentor. Beth once had a casual military glass-ceiling conversation with a female Marine colonel, an officer now part of Task Force Trident, a special-ops group so secret it reports only to the president. Rapid reaction is Trident’s game, and soon a reluctant Swanson and the gung-ho Coastie are on the ground near the bridge. That displeases William Lloyd Curtis, head of the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of American-Islamic Affairs. Curtis is a former industrialist with ties to the Mideast and links to Pakistan’s infamous Inter-Services Intelligence. Swanson and Ledford soon discover the bridge hides a reinforced tunnel complex meant to serve as a sophisticated, computer-driven headquarters for Commander Khan of the New Muslim Order, presumed successor to bin Laden. Beth proves herself special-ops material in a running gun battle inside the fortress, and the pair bring out al-Attas with evidence the NMO is planning a bloody and dramatic strike at America’s prestige.

Add a corrupt astronaut, sniper rifles with a two-mile range and a former British SAS fighter who is now a rich industrialist willing to support Trident clandestine ops with weapons and transportation, and Coughlin and Davis (An Act of Treason, 2011, etc.) hit the action-adventure 10-ring again.