A former Interpol operative and Green Beret comes out of retirement to battle terrorists, a cult, and a Russian crime syndicate in this trilogy of thrillers.
In the opening tale, Tchaikovsky’s Egg, Martin Forn’s quiet Indiana life is threatened by his need to kill a man. The aging ex-soldier and Interpol contractor may get his chance when KGB agents show up at his home. The Puravich Crime Syndicate is looking for a traitor—Martin’s wife, Clara Puravich, who, it seems, skipped town. Soon thereafter, someone abducts his daughter Sara’s boyfriend, Johnny Corn-Walters. Since he’s the last living son of Tenskwatawa the Shawnee Prophet, Johnny’s kidnapping comes with a hefty ransom demand. This could be the repercussions of a tribal war or a move by the local Starology cult, but it becomes personal for Martin when abductees include Sara and his son, Elias. In The Price of Peace, a reactivated Martin takes an Interpol contract to pay back expensive intelligence he acquired while searching for his children. He also has the opportunity to get revenge for a fellow soldier killed in action, while Johnny and Sara join Interpol to try to rid Indiana of the Puravich Syndicate’s continued presence. Later, an interest in the Assyrian Plague, a terrorist group, sends Martin and Johnny overseas in The Pale Horse Returned, hoping for proof of the Plague’s “ongoing genocide.” Wilk’s (The Last Heroes Before Judgement, 2016) nicely paced series delivers its fair share of action. Martin’s kept on his toes, for example, by the first story’s overload of agencies, from the CIA to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. And he’s a tailor-made spy, with Clara asserting that contract killing for Martin is a “vacation.” The book’s unfortunately impeded by a baffling structure. Ever shifting, first-person perspective between Martin and Johnny, for starters, becomes hard to track, with no indications of change. Dialogue, too, never has an identified speaker; Wilk shrewdly ensures clarity with oft-uttered names, but that doesn’t make transitioning between narrators any easier. Grammatical and spelling mistakes are likewise distracting (for example, a person’s contacts that “wreak of international espionage”). Notwithstanding, Wilk skillfully ties the stories together with consistent characters and an overarching theme of family versus the life of an operative.
All the perks of a sturdy spy tale, marred by some stumbles.