Tag Archives: Iran

“Man of My Time: A Novel,” by Dalia Sofer

     Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 384 pages. Hardcover $$27.00

A dazzling tale of a person — and a country — in despair.

The provocative title of Dalia Sofer’s absorbing new novel leads readers to ask: “Aren’t we all creatures of our time?” The answer isn’t as simple as it seems and involves an exploration into the nature of what it means to be “of” a particular time and place. 

Sofer, with great insight and urgency, depicts Iran — especially its capital city, Tehran — during a time of political and cultural transformation, which took that country’s people in multiple directions. She soaks us in the aftermath of its 1978 revolution, including what led up to it and what followed.

How does one navigate the shifting corridors of power? How can families hold together when circumstances propel members to take sides — sometimes out of sincere, principled sentiment; sometimes out of fear; and sometimes out of inertia? And to what configurations of national or religious identity should a person ally him or herself?

Dalia Sofer credit Anthony Rhoades

The main character in Man of My Time, Hamid Mozaffarian, wants to find his own path. But he seems doomed. He cannot negotiate life’s hurdles and, at bottom, doesn’t want to. He seems to enjoy his blend of numbness and pain.

He has managed to find a government sinecure as an interrogator, but it’s a job with strings attached: pleasing the higher-ups. Favors must be returned. . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the Washington Independent Review of Books, click here:  Man of My Time

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The ‘game’ is high-stakes espionage thriller action at its best

Assassin’s Game, by Ward Larsen. Forge. 384 pages. Hardcover $25.99.

This sophisticated espionage thriller brings back into print Mossad operative David Slaton, who first appeared in Mr. Larsen’s well-received “The Perfect Assassin” (2008). Slaton is a specialist. He is a “kidon,” an assassin, in Israel’s greatly feared security force. The assignment he receives follows upon two failures by Mossad operatives to assassinate an important target – the man in charge of Iran’s nuclear weapon program. He does not take this assignment willingly. Assassin'sGameCoverFinal_HIRES

The novel opens with David retired and living a new life as Edmund Deadmarch. Married to Dr. Christine Palmer, he seems happy with their quiet life in Northern Virginia where he works (or perhaps exercises) lifting and placing large rocks for a landscape contractor. Suddenly, Deadmarch receives a message on his phone, quits and takes off.

We find Christine at a medical conference in Stockholm, where she is suddenly confronted in a café near her hotel by a man from David’s Mossad past – a man named Anton Bloch. Though supposedly the Mossad was out of their lives, something has changed. Bloch tells Christine that he had been ordered to manipulate a situation to force David back into the game. He points to a nearby threat – foreign operatives ready to abduct her – and gives her instructions for escape. Christine flees for her life.

This threat, perhaps actually the Mossad scheme to make David do its bidding, does bring him back into action. We learn that there is a leak in the Mossad hierarchy that is probably responsible for the failed assassination attempts (with consequent personnel losses). A skilled, savvy outsider is needed to run an independent attack on the Iranian nuclear weapons mastermind, Dr. Hamedi.

Larsen

Larsen

So, when David – as Edmund Deadmarch – arrives in Stockholm, he has two concerns: protecting his wife and performing the assassination. When he learns that Mossad has taken Christine, his maneuverings to rescue her involve mayhem in the area near the Strand Hotel where she is staying. This bloody mess, brilliantly described, brings aging Inspector Arne Sanderson into the case.

From here on, “Assassin’s Game” develops with suspense-packed clockwork precision. Mr. Larsen strategically shifts the reader’s perspective by following, alternately, David, Christine, Sanderson, Hamedi, and Behrouz – the Iranian security chief who must protect Hamedi. Their separate activities, thoughts, and connections with sharply drawn function characters are all part of a race to the success or failure of David’s mission and his marriage.

Hamedi will be speaking, under heavy guard, at an important meeting in Geneva. That meeting provides David’s opportunity. Timing is everything. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the September 3, 2014 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the September 4 Naples, Bonita Springs, and Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte editions, click here Florida Weekly – Assassin’s Game

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Unofficial “Special Forces” operation threatens Iranian weapons program

“Cooper’s Revenge,” by T. L. Williams. First Coast Publishers. 260 pages. $12.75.

It’s not enough that die-hard Navy Seal Logan Alexander loses his career to a severe leg injury while serving in Afghanistan. His psychological rehab is set back by news that his kid brother, Cooper, an Army Ranger in Iraq, is killed by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). When the close-knit, overachieving Alexander family receives this news, they are at first devastated.  coopers-revenge-cover

Aside from the official military consolations, the Alexanders hear from John Gomez, a combat medic in Cooper’s platoon whose letter tells them about Cooper’s girlfriend, Zahir Parandeh, an Army contract linguist who worked with the American forces in Iraq. Cut off from her conservative Iranian family by her intention to marry Cooper, American-raised Zahir makes her way back to the U.S. Upon her arrival, the Alexanders take her in as one of their own, though Logan is a bit standoffish.

He has, however, found himself a mission.

Below the radar of American government scrutiny, he puts together a team of former Seals and other Special Forces experts, including John Gomez, whose goal is to demolish the Iranian IED development program. This program, implemented by a special arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard know as the Qods Force, has been exporting terror throughout the region and, in fact, far beyond it. Logan somewhat reluctantly adds Zahir to his team.

T. L. Williams

T. L. Williams

With Kuwaiti assistance, both private and governmental, a complex plan is developed to destroy the IED facility.

T. L. Williams shows himself a master at detailing Special Forces stealth operations. His description of the plan’s formation is magnificently clear. His representation of how the participants train to sharpen their skills and master the plan’s stages by simulating it at carefully selected and provisioned sites in the U. S. is superb and totally engrossing.

During the training period, Logan begins to gain respect for Zahir, and perhaps a bit of attraction, too.

Perhaps Mr. Williams’ greatest challenge was imagining the enemy. He handles the challenge by focusing alternating chapters on the world of the Qods forces. The central character here is Barzin Ghabel, a fast-track colonel who commands the IED Reseach and Training facility. Proud of the successes against Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, this Qods Force team is developing advanced technologies to make its IED arsenal and other weapons even more devastating. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the Fort Myers Florida Weekly for April 3, 2013, the April 4 Bonita Springs edition, and the April 11 Naples edition, click here:  Florida Weekly – T. L. Williams.

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