A terrorist attack on U.S. soil leads to an armed strike in the Middle East in this second military thriller from Winnick (East Wind, 2010).
FBI Special Agent Lara Edmond of the Joint Terrorism Task Force is sent to Brooklyn, N.Y., after a local Orthodox synagogue explodes. She teams up with Uri Levin, a Mossad agent with whom she’s quite familiar both professionally and romantically, and they suspect that Islamic terrorists have infiltrated the country using false identities. It turns out that the terrorists’ ultimate goal is more global—to prevent America from intervening after an attack on Israel. A lot happens in this thriller, and its action takes various forms: Lara and Uri in bullet-ridden fights; Arabs watching fighter planes shoot one another out of the sky; and numerous discussions of military strategy from aggressors such as Iran, which has long-range missiles aimed at Tel Aviv. The first half of the novel is structured as a mystery, as Lara and Uri track down Israeli students in Texas who may be sleeper agents. They are strong, intelligent leads, although Winnick only cursorily handles their rekindling romance, riding the coattails of their established relationship from his previous novel. The second half is more suspenseful, as Israel contends with hostile forces from Syria, Egypt and other nations, with American logistical support remaining uncertain. The story does eventually hit a bit of a stalemate, as crosstalk from various countries on military tactics dominates the narrative, and it’s obvious that America’s decision will be made before Israel is overwhelmed. Winnick, however, manages to imbue these pages with tension, as Israel’s enemies form a “tenuous coalition,” as the Syrian chief of staff suggests. Some villains are painted in basic colors—the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, for example, revels in the Jewish deaths in the synagogue explosion—while others are cunningly left obscure.
Winnick’s fine thriller displays his expert knowledge of the Middle East and his laudable skill as a storyteller.