A fast-moving spy-versus-spy thriller featuring the return of James Hicks (Sympathy for the Devil, 2015).
In New York City, Hicks senses that he’s being followed and confirms it through The University, the secret and unofficial organization he works for. He’d just captured a terrorist named Bajjah, or “The Moroccan,” who had recently carried out the first biological attack against the United States. Bajjah had hoped to kill thousands with a “genetically engineered plague [that] would grow exponentially,” but it worked too quickly and only killed the hosts. Now he’s undergoing brutal interrogation by The University to identify his cohorts. The University’s dean orders Hicks to “break the Moroccan and break him quickly.” So Hicks promises the prisoner “a quick and painless death” if he cooperates, and the beaten-down Bajjah agrees. Hicks feels obligated to follow through, despite his later statement that “I tell lies for a living.” While Bajjah bows during his sunrise prayers, Hicks shoots him in the back of the head. “I promised him the sunrise,” Hicks says with nary a qualm. What a hero. Meanwhile, the Mossad wants Bajjah for their own interrogation and will be furious when they find out he’s dead. The Barnyard, the dean’s nickname for the CIA, is hunting Hicks even though they can’t legally operate in the U.S. Someone there wants him dead, but his enemies’ efforts to kill him work out poorly, thanks to help from a powerful University communications tool called OMNI. In the midst of all this action, the dean makes a dramatic revelation affecting Hicks in a big way. Incidentally, the title makes scant sense, because it bears no relation to the story other than conveying a sense of darkness—and murder.
Not a bad read, especially for those who believe that anything goes when fighting terrorists. But it’s interesting what some perceive as heroism.