Fleming’s (Forty Days at Kamas, 2013, etc.) latest dystopian thriller, the second in his Kamas trilogy, tells of a prison-camp survivor enlisted to assassinate the camp’s last remaining warden.
In 2029, Frank Werner is part of the Star Committee, a group that he and other prisoners formed years ago while in a “corrective labor camp” in Kamas, Utah. The Committee gives him an assignment: Kill former warden Frederick Rocco, the man responsible for shutting down the Kamas revolt five years before. Frank, who’s still looking for the daughter he lost after his arrest in 2024, recruits other survivors and trusted colleagues for the covert mission—but, as with any plan, snags are inevitable. The central assassination plot, which opens the novel, generates a fair amount of suspense; readers soon find out that the team’s mission may have been unsuccessful—and that it left at least one member dead. The author previously wrote about war-torn Beirut in his novel Dynamite Fishermen; here, he depicts civil turmoil in a near-future America that’s suffered through a second civil war and is now ruled by the totalitarian Unionist government. This unnerving atmosphere provides an effective backdrop for several subplots; for example, Frank’s girlfriend, Carol, is in danger of losing her living space to the Housing Authority, and Frank believes that a neighbor falsified disparaging details about Carol to get her apartment. At another point, Frank very carefully tries to find out information about his daughter at a local school. Intermittent flashbacks also reveal details of Frank’s time as a prisoner. But in this grim future, Fleming provides breaths of fresh air, such as Frank’s amusingly old-school method of surveillance: He simply drinks coffee and reads a newspaper while sitting across the street from the building where Rocco works. Clear parallels to the Holocaust abound in this novel, but, rather than turning Frank into a tragic figure, the author emphasizes Frank’s steadfast determination and strength as a survivor.
A full-bodied thriller relayed by a consummate storyteller.