THE DATE FARM by Jack Winnick


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In this fourth installment of a series, Mossad agents face off against Islamic terrorists initiating attacks in the United States.

A group of armed men opens fire at a crowd in a Beverly Hills shopping mall. After the assailants commit suicide with shouts of “Allahu Akhbar,” the FBI calls Uri Levin and Lara Edmond. The married couple are Mossad agents, though Lara is still officially a fed as well. They cut short their vacation at Lara’s family farm in Ohio and head to Los Angeles, but the evidence they gather there unfortunately sparks no leads. Weeks later, there’s a different style of attack in New York. Unknown men have incited a traffic jam and subsequently taken over two buildings, the Federal Reserve and Chase Manhattan Bank. At the same time, someone has evidently disabled communications networks and satellite transmissions. Suspecting the attackers, like in the California shooting, are Middle Eastern, the feds once again bring in Uri and Lara. Readers are aware that Sheikh Zainal Abidin is heading the strike against America. U.S. agents believe the enemy’s objective is gold, rumored to be at the Federal Reserve but actually at Chase Manhattan Bank. But Abidin has other agendas in the works. He wants revenge against Uri and Lara, who previously foiled a plan that he was a part of years ago. But his ultimate goal, known only to a few, is stealing a rare material stored in one of the two buildings.

In this thriller, Winnick (Devil in False Colors, 2016, etc.) wastes little time in showcasing the villains as well as the bulk of their simple but effective plan. For example, Abidin’s “electronics team” in Kazerun, Iran, is responsible for America’s communications shutdown while the Beverly Hills attack was really a setup for the more substantial one in Manhattan. This certainly boosts suspense, as Abidin has his eyes set on the Mossad heroes well before they identify him as a culprit. But too many characters (and narrative details) reiterate already clarified elements of the baddies’ scheme, including someone hacking communications and gold as a potential target. Luckily, this hardly slows down the story, which moves at a steady clip. The latter half entails a journey from North to South America and, later, Iran, where Uri and Lara go undercover in enemy territory. The author aptly balances the recurring protagonists’ romantic and professional lives. There’s no question the two are in love, but in the field, they’re both tenacious agents even if they aren’t working side by side. The bad guys are painted in broader colors, but they’re still an engrossing bunch, and their propensity for martyrdom makes them frightening. In keeping with the action, Winnick’s descriptions are thorough while continually propelling the narrative: “The dead and wounded had been tended to, a task that took over an hour, before any of the Federal officers realized the contents of the wooden crates had not been identified.” Winnick also adds surprises, from the (eventual) reveal of the unknown material to one character’s betrayal.

A swiftly paced thriller with impeccable heroes.

Pub Date: Dec. 24th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-79093-946-6
Page count: 234pp
Publisher: Self
Program: Kirkus Indie
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