Two government operatives investigate a series of anti-Semitic murders that apparently involve Islamic State terrorists in Winnick’s (East Wind, 2015, etc.) latest series thriller.
A massacre of five children at a Los Angeles Jewish day school shocks police officers, and a discarded note in Arabic at the scene, allegedly signed “ISIS” (or “ISIL”), implies that more Jewish victims may die in the future. Authorities opt to bring in former FBI agent Lara Edmond, now with the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and Mossad agent Uri Levin, both of whom were pivotal years ago in thwarting a nuclear attack in America. At that time, Lara and Uri wound up in bed together—and even fell in love—but they haven’t seen each other in the last three years. A popular rabbi is soon the killers’ next target. In response, Lara responds to Muslim clerics’ online ads, offering herself up as an American bride; it’s a ploy to gain potential intel, as wives of jihadists have previously been actively involved in their husbands’ illicit deeds. Uri, meanwhile, plays the role of an escaped terrorist lying low in Los Angeles. It turns out, however, that they’re both already in danger, as the people behind the LA attacks know that the two are in the city—and the group has a larger, more destructive plan in the works. Winnick’s returning protagonists are as crafty and able-bodied as before; Lara, at one point, warns a man not to underestimate her physically—and breaks something to demonstrate why. But the villains, amply covered here, particularly stand out. Their murder scheme, for starters, is devious and effective; it’s clearly meant as a distraction, but the group’s ultimate goal isn’t so easy for agents (or readers) to decipher. When the bad guys adapt when something goes awry, it shows both their guile and determination. Lara and Uri rekindle their romance, but Winnick smartly keeps it on the back burner, focusing instead on the investigation. Interestingly, a few minor characters also take up a bit of the spotlight, including one introduced late in the story.
A novel with formidable villains and plentiful action and suspense.