Tag Archives: Spain

A semi-private war against terrorism continues in a fast-paced thriller

Unit 400: The Assassins, by T. L. Williams. First Coast Publishers. 298 pages. Trade paper $14.50.

Former Navy SEAL Logan Alexander’s semi-private war against Islamic terrorism continues in this high energy novel that grows smoothly out of its predecessor, “Cooper’s Revenge” (2012). Now running a maritime consulting business in Boston, Logan is soon involved in payback for payback. A year earlier, he had put together a special forces’ team, funded by a wealthy Kuwaiti businessman, that had destroyed an Iranian IED facility. The businessman’s son, Hamid, who had saved Logan’s life during the raid, has come to Boston to pursue a graduate degree. As he and Logan are about to meet for lunch, Logan is witness to Hamid’s murder in front of the restaurant. Unit400Cover

This killing is not a spontaneous event, but a carefully planned execution that is payback for the episode back in Iran. Iran’s Qods Force had compromised Kuwaiti intelligence and gained detailed information about the IED raid. This means that the participants, including Logan, are known and in danger. Iranian leadership wants to make it clear that it will brook no interference with its jihadist intentions. In fact, it has created a special cadre known as Unit 400 to carry out actions such as assassinating Hamid.

Logan had a glimpse of the assassin, a Middle Eastern man whom he described to the police. The killer’s weapon? It’s Logan’s own knife that he had plunged into an enemy leader during the raid.

While meeting with the Boston police detective assigned to the case in the police station, Logan sees a picture of the very man who killed Hamid. He is part of the police academy’s recent graduating class! Armeen Khorasani is quickly identified, but he has an ironclad alibi. He also has a twin brother, Nouri, who had left the family home in Massachusetts five years ago and was last reported to be living in Tehran.

Soon, Mr. Williams widens the lens of his novel by introducing the assassin and writing chapters and subsections from Nouri’s perspective. We learn about his motives, his training, his strengths, and his weaknesses. Through Nouri, readers come to know more about the mission and strategy of Unit 400. He is a credible, dedicated, cold-blooded monster.

T. L. Williams

T. L. Williams

Unit 400 plans take Nouri from Spain to Venezuela, then to Mexico and back to Boston. T. L. Williams does a spectacular job of describing Nouri’s precautions, in particular how he manages to avoid being followed and finds ways of moving from place to place so that he can confidently determined that he is not being followed. Readers learn, as well, about his ability – through specialists who assist his Unit 400 mission – to shift identities and deflect suspicion.

Nouri’s travels posit an Iran-Venezuela axis of rogue nations. Soon, his handlers get him back onto the completion of his mission to revenge the IED raid, which means having him return to Boston. What transpires there and what lies ahead for Logan Alexander must await your own reading of this most exciting story. . . .

To read this review in its entirety, as it appears in the March 19, 2014 For Myers Florida Weekly and the March 20 Bonita Springs, Charlotte County, and Naples editions, click here Florida Weekly – Unit 400 1 and here Florida Weekly – Unit 400 2.

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The Two Sams – memoir

This is the fourth of the five Bookbinders sketches that orginally appeared in Fall/Winter 1997 issue of WordWrights. Those previously posted are found in the “Musings” category: “Butterfly Dress,” “Grandpa Jake,” and “Frieda.”

Like many of you, I had two Uncle Sams. One was my father’s older brother. This Uncle Sam lived in Brooklyn with his wife Minette and adopted daughter, Edlee. We didn’t see them very often. Uncle Sam was so much older than my father that they had each grown up as only children and didn’t have much in common. Even now, though I can see his face in my mind’s eye very clearly, I can’t tell you very much about what he was like. I think he was tall and kind of gentle. I can’t be sure. I don’t even remember how he made his living, nor can I recall anything he ever said. There was a stiffness to his gait, back trouble perhaps, and a way he had of looking sorrowful about some endured failure.

The other Uncle Sam was my mother’s younger brother. Swarthily handsome, slim, thin of hair but not really balding, and slightly bug-eyed, he carried himself with confidence and had a congenial, knowing air. When I first became aware of him, he was the family’s war hero. Actually, he’d had jobs in uniform that connected him to the entertainment industry and U.S.O. activities. He worked in Armed Forces radio, managed clubs for servicemen, and spent time in places like Paris.

There were rumors of his gorgeous Belgian girlfriend, a singer or actress, whom he gave up because he knew she could never be comfortable in his unstylish, lower class Jewish Bronx milieu. Or maybe it was she who ditched him. But he was already beyond that milieu anyway: an articulate, artsy guy who’d seen the world and charmed fantastic women.

Nevertheless, she had been the love of his life and as I grew up and go to spend more and more time with him, it became clear that his dalliances with other women were only that.

He was a great son to Grandma Ida, helping her financially and in almost every other way as she struggled into old age. He was the talented one who seemed to sacrifice a brilliant future to shoulder family responsibilities.

New York fed his interests. He saw all the shows, learned to play the flute, went to gallery openings, shopped at Barney’s long before everyone else caught on. A wholesale liquor salesman whose route took him to stores and bars all over the city, he played golf whenever he could and knew show biz folks from Times Square to The Hamptons. Familiar with the jazz scene (he’d probably known it in Paris), his speech was spiced with hipster argot. An engagement was a “gig”; an assent was “yeah, man.”

He remained a young sport as middle age drew near, and when I moved to New York to finish college and work on my relationship with my lady fair, he was open to us as if we were generational peers. During my first half-year in the city (late 1960), I lived with Grandma Ida and usually slept in what had been Uncle Sam’s bedroom. Sleeping, reading, and imagining in his old bed gave me a worldly feeling that helped my comfort level in Greenwich Village and other exotic haunts.

Sometimes Uncle Sam would leave his suave bachelor pad in the West Twenties and stay over at Grandma’s for a night. During and around dinner and breakfast, he’d give her some quality time. Then I’d switch over to Aunt Emma’s old room.

Sam (by now I’d dropped the “Uncle” in addressing him) was the natural choice for best man at my wedding, though some mistook him for the groom.

Years later, something happened to his circulatory system. His hands, in particular, were affected, and he had to seek a warmer climate to improve his condition and to find congenial work. He didn’t go to Florida, Southern California, or Mexico. No, Uncle Sam went to Spain and settled in the Costa del Sol area. He ran a photo shop, wrote for golf magazines, and settled into an international community that must have held some of the buzz he’d enjoyed as part of the allied establishment in France at war’s end – but without the danger or damage.

My wife and I lost direct contact with Sam, but news filtered through. At some point, we heard that he’d sired a daughter with a Swedish expatriate, and then later we discovered that he was living with a British countess, or ex-countess. Romance dogged him. From a distance, he seemed so glamorous. His letters to my mother, which she would read to me over the phone from her retirement home in Arizona, were filled with references to luminaries like Sean Connery.

After twenty of more years of this, he became seriously ill. Medical treatment in Spain proved inadequate, so he returned to New York and with Aunt Emma’s help tried out the Veterans’ Administration doctors as well as those at New York University Hospital. He brought with him the countess, whom he had married shortly before leaving Spain. Her accent cut through the family’s sludgy New Yawk patois like a gin and tonic heavy on the twist. Operations and strokes followed that left him helpless, inarticulate, that fine cultured mind buried in frustrated silence.

In the end, then, he resembled the older Uncle Sam: stiff and sorrowful, quietly bearing a burden. Looking at him, it was hard to remember all he had been, all the color he’d lent to our humdrum lives.

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