SHIFTING SANDS by Ray Keating

SHIFTING SANDS

A Pastor Stephen Grant Short Story
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Terrorists may impede recreational time at a volleyball tournament for a Navy SEAL/CIA-trained pastor in this 10th installment of a series.

Long Island Lutheran Pastor Stephen Grant has the opportunity to dig his toes into the sand of Manhattan Beach. He and his wife, Jennifer, have VIP tickets for the Bedlam on the Beach Tour.  But Stephen hasn’t even sipped his first piña colada when he recognizes members of CDM International Strategies and Security. This includes CDM head Paige Caldwell, Stephen’s former CIA partner. Stephen, who was also a SEAL, learns that the security team has its eyes on tourney participant Ranya Khan. As she’s the daughter of a Saudi prince, Ranya already has a personal bodyguard in the U.S. But Prince Hkim Khan hired CDM for extra protection during the event. However, Stephen later spots Elon Mizrah, a Mossad agent he worked with more than two decades ago. Mizrah is watching Ranya as well, as the prince’s attempts “to open up Saudi society” has likely incited Islamic militants. Unfortunately, terrorists are indeed at the tournament and waiting to strike while intelligence from a secret contact known as “11” may put the villains at a frightening advantage. Keating’s (Heroes and Villains, 2018, etc.) short story dives right into the action, with the proficient CDM team identifying suspicious individuals on the beach. As in preceding installments, this tale provides enough details about recurring characters that readers new to the series won’t be lost. Accordingly, the scene of Mizrah referencing Stephen’s history and past lovers (in Jennifer’s presence) is understandably awkward, though equally funny. Stephen is a well-rounded protagonist who’s skilled in combat but likewise vulnerable: He faces a bulky assailant who hardly acknowledges the pastor’s stranglehold. There’s an impressive mystery this time around, as readers may not easily discern the terrorists’ ultimate motivation or who exactly 11 is. Resolutions come to light during the rousing final act, rife with explosives, bullets, and a few bodies.

Another solid thriller with the always welcome and dexterous hero.

Pub Date: Nov. 18th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-73095-686-7
Page count: 119pp
Publisher: Self
Program: Kirkus Indie
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