Tag Archives: nuclear weapons

A must-read techno-thriller as fear-filled as the news

Review by Phil Jason

Assassin’s Revenge, by Ward Larsen. Forge Books. 392 pages. Hardcover $29.99.

All techno thriller fans will delight in this 6th installment in the David Slaton series.

David Slaton, a former Mossad agent specializing in assassinations and now a person who is happy to be thought of as deceased, has been admiring the piloting by Dan Rhea. Slaton admires the intricacies of the F/A – 18F Super Hornet, but why are they flying over North Korea? And to what end? Reader, time will tell. But in the short run, meet some North Korean government power brokers who may or may not have the confidence of their supreme leader, Chairman Kwon, who is chasing after a technological threat way beyond his mobile ballistic missiles fitted with nuclear warheads.

Suddenly, the scene shifts back in time to Gibraltar. Slaton has returned to the dock where he had left his wife and son on their sailboat, but they are missing. In order to have any chance of bringing them to safety, Slaton must assassinate a scientist he briefly knew in his Mossad days, a man who is now working at the International Atomic Energy Agency. When they meet up, however, the focus is on the horror of HEU – highly enriched uranium – getting into the wrong hands.

Ward Larsen

Where is their sailboat, the Sirius? How would his wife Christine be reacting to the high-threat situation that includes the safety of their small son Davy? Slaton’s path must now take him to Vienna, the home of the IAEA.

While Slaton explores the situation in Vienna, Mr. Larsen has readers explore the world of Kasim Boutrous, an Iraqi commanding a very special mission. Boutrous heads a small band of suicidal ISIS operatives dedicated to enhancing the reputation and influence of the subdued caliphate. They are planning a tremendous blow to the United States with a scheme that will make 9/11 look like the work of novices. His destination is North Korea. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the January 22, 2020 Fort Myers Florida Weekly,the January 23 Palm Beach, Venice, and Bonita Springs editions, and the January 30 Naples edition, click here: Assassin’s Revenge

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Rogue CIA agent plans nuclear vengeance on key cities

The Fourth Horseman, by David Hagberg. Forge. 368 pages. Hardcover $25.99.

Sarasota resident Hagberg’s seventy-plus novels include the popular Kirk McGarvey series, of which this is the latest. It returns to action former CIA director McGarvey in a high stakes assignment that tests all his skills, experience, and resolve. Pakistan is on the edge of chaos, and a quickly emerging leader, self-named Messiah, is on the verge of taking over – but to what end? With four stolen nuclear weapons out of Pakistani government control, it’s likely that more than Pakistan’s future is in jeopardy. FourthHorsemancover_Hagberg

Once McGarvey is tasked by President Charlene Miller with uncovering and stopping Messiah, he finds himself reluctantly teamed with the attractive CIA agent Pete (yes, a girl named Pete) Boylan. Her love for him is obvious and admitted, though McGarvey, still called Mr. Director by old hands, is fearful of an intimate relationship, both professionally and personally. He has already lost too many people he has cared for. McGarvey has enemies: his wife, daughter and son-in-law had been killed by a bomb exploded in a Georgetown restaurant. McGarvey’s mourning and guilt is ongoing, as is his determination to fulfill his duties – an uneasy mix.

Pete won’t stay out of the way. She’s a professional, too, and her skills are needed on this assignment.

It is McGarvey’s conviction that Messiah is none other than a trusted and experienced CIA agent named David Haaris. He has persuaded some other security higher-ups that this is at least likely, but there are others, including an assistant to the president, who are not convinced.



Readers, however, are allowed to get into Haaris’s head – they know more about his motives and plans then any of the characters, including McGarvey.

Haaris, a native of Pakistan who was raised in England, has learned that his cancer is terminal. He is not far away from death. A man who had lived with painful rejection as a child and as a university student, Haaris – in part through his charade as Messiah – is planning his revenge. He has a sophisticated scheme to use the remaining three of the four stolen nuclear missiles (one had been exploded, perhaps inadvertently, by Talaban forces) to bring destruction to New York, Washington DC, and London. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the February 24. 2016 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the February 25 Naples, Bonita Springs, Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte and Palm Beach Gardens/Jupiter editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Hagberg

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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.



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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