The hero is the bait in high-tension military thriller

The Lazarus Connection, by Frederick F. Meyers, Jr. Brighton Publishing. 279 pages. $12.95, e-book $5.99.

Although it contains enough back-exposition to be read as a stand-alone novel, The Lazarus Connection is probably best enjoyed as the final segment of a trilogy. It follows from the author’s The Jericho Gambit and Cry Judas, his two previous political-military thrillers featuring Matt Gannon. Each of the books features the conflict between the American Army colonel turned CIA agent Gannon and his arch-enemy Salal, a true believer Islamic terrorist leader. While the appeal of the books is rooted primarily in action, Mr. Meyers’ handling of the mindset of his primary characters gives these novels special heft. 

Moreover, Mr. Meyers’ experience as a military/security insider allows him to flesh out his plot lines with authoritative detail.

“The Lazarus Connection” plot springs from its immediate post 9/11 setting and its contextualizing of the 9/11 tragedy as only a step among many in extremist Islam’s war against the United States and its allies. As a mastermind planner and executer of terrorist action, Salal has twice been foiled by Gannon (these contests anchor the first two novels) but has lived to design a malignant vengeance on his nemesis while at the same time launching more attacks on the Western empire of infidels that he is determined to destroy.

The novel’s focus becomes narrowed to a vendetta operation when the American strategists decide to dangle Matt Gannon as bait to bring down Salal, his accomplices, and his subordinates. But mostly Salal. The initial operation, run out of the U. S. embassy in Pakistan, first involves Matt in a mission to capture terrorist leaders at their hideout in remote corner of Afghanistan.  This operation seems bungled, and Matt is captured and – for a while – thought to be dead.

Meyers

However, like the title reference “Lazarus,” he makes a shadowy return. Salal, determined to make Gannon suffer before exterminating him, designs a plot against Gannon’s family, assuring himself that his will draw Gannon out into the open to protect and/or avenge them. Of course, this is a twisted version of what Gannon and others anticipate. Now, however, not only is Gannon the bait, but now, unexpectedly, his wife and parents are as well.

Mr. Meyers’ handling of the ins and outs of his intricate plot, his descriptions of place, and his probing of the psyches of principal and supporting players, is on the mark. Whether dealing with U.S. agents and officials or terrorist support staff or greedy freelancers, the author provides strong individualizing traits. . . .

To read this review in its entirety, as it appears in the August 1, 2012 Fort Myers Florida Weekly, the August 2 Bonita Springs and Naples editions, and the August 9 Spacecoast edition, click here: Florida Weekly – Frederick Meyers, Jr.

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