In Nelson’s thriller, Islamic extremists and the KGB join forces to dump 40 tons of cheap heroin in the U.S.
Former KGB agents, cloaked in a veil of Islamic terrorism, are taking aim at America. Terrorist Rajahib, with a secret connection to the KGB, plots revenge against the U.S. after a group of Americans rape his sister, who then commits suicide. In an act of vengeance more powerful than bombs, Rajahib and his trusted circle of agents—themselves bent on a holy war against the U.S.—steal 450 tons of legally grown opium from the Indian government. The opium is in turn transformed into 40 tons of heroin at a secret fortress in the mountains of Afghanistan. Rajahib’s plan, with secret Russian approval, is to flood the U.S. with cut-rate heroin in an effort to destroy the underpinnings of American society. In the process, an unsuspecting American computer programmer finds himself at the heart of a worldwide drug conspiracy. With echoes of Tom Clancy, Nelson (Morphine Base, 2009, etc.) sends multiple complex storylines on a collision course, leading to a scintillating finale in the Hazarajat region of Afghanistan. Loyalties are not what they seem among the conspirators, and only as the various stories merge does it become clear just how thoroughly Nelson has plotted his narrative. Nelson’s book actually incorporates two distinct novels—Morphine Base and Pure Heroin—but both are, in fact, extensions of one story. If separated, they wouldn’t work as well, but together they sing. One complaint: A more thorough attempt to blend the two novels could have taken the combined novel to a higher level of storytelling. Altogether, though, the narrative is packed with intrigue and suspense. Except for a few glossed-over details, the action constantly flows in the enveloping world of this complex thriller.
Fun, challenging and dangerous.