This espionage novel is ripped from the headlines. Drawing on real events connected with the July 2005 London subway bombing, The Afghan conjures up a pulse-raising tale of plots and counter-plots. When leaders of the United States and the United Kingdom uncover the outlines of a massive al Qaeda attack plan, they attempt a risky substitution: Colonel Mike Martin, a resourceful British operative, is sent into the Taliban hornet nest to ferret out the details of the terrorist assault.
Forsyth writes as if preparing for the movie or television miniseries he knows will surely follow. His multiple focus in terms of characters and settings makes for thrilling cinema and engrossing reading, but in an audio version, a global smattering of Afghani, Arabic, Pakistani, British, Indonesian and other names can cause a bout of verbal vertigo. Wise listeners will replay the first CD or at least part of it. Once the characters, ships and locales are in place, the narrative is much easier to follow, despite Forsyth's love of minutiae. Powell plods through the novel with all the enthusiasm of a distracted Oxbridge tutor. His presentation is careful and eloquent but ultimately dull. He doesn't understand the nuances of most accents, including those of the Americans, all of whom have gruff voices. Powell does best with his performance of Colonel Mike Martin, the reluctant hero of this tale. The action, when it comes, is too little and too late to hold one's attention on audio. Powell's lethargic pace inflates this particular flaw in Forsyth's novel. It would be better to read the print version or wait for the film. Simultaneous release with the Putnam hardcover (Reviews, June 5). (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
American and British intelligence services discover that al Qaeda is planning something major and horrific that will likely occur somewhere in the United States. However, since neither country has operatives on the inside, they have no idea what or where. Enter retired British army Col. Mike Martin, who first appeared in Forsyth's The Fist of God. Martin's job is to assume the identity of an imprisoned Taliban member and infiltrate al Qaeda. This is plausible because he is lean, dark-complexioned, of part-Indian descent, and was raised in Iran. Martin becomes the titular Afghan and begins a dangerous and frightening journey toward discovering what appalling act the terrorists are planning and putting a stop to it. Typical of Forsyth's work (e.g., The Day of the Jackal and Avenger), this is a tense story of technology vs. evil, the latter in this case a mind-numbing degree of fanaticism. Even though it starts slowly, it builds to an exciting climax that makes the read well worth it. Recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/06.]-Robert Conroy, Warren, MI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
The Forsyth Formula, al-Qaeda version: A sort of post-9/11 apocalyptic western, this thriller pits White Guys against Black Turbans, the daring forces of freedom versus the jihadi doers of evil. Should Hasbro ever decide it needs a new G.I. Joe, Mike Martin's their man. The latest action figure from the Forsyth franchise (Avenger, 2003, etc.), he's a craggy Scot summoned from a wee bit of rest and relaxation at his Hampshire retreat back into the endless global fray. The listening department of Pakistan's Counter-Terrorism Center has, through cell-phone surveillance, unearthed a plot. One of Osama bin Laden's financiers has already, clutching his laptop, hurled himself from a balustrade to protect the plans. Hi-tech British cunning retrieves the info, which reveals schemes for "Al Isra," the biggest potential attack yet. To penetrate al-Qaeda, U.K./U.S. intelligence makes a mole of Martin, passing him off as Izmat Khan, ex-Taliban bigwig serving time in Gitmo. Mirror images of each other, the men are archetypal warriors, Khan a stoic Afghan outraged by the Russian invasion of his country and conned by desperation into bin Laden's service, Martin a 25-year veteran of killing missions-the Falklands, the Balkans, the Middle East. Plus, passing for Khan is easy for multilingual Martin, son of an oil-company executive stationed in Iraq. He even looks the part: "olive-skinned, black-haired and eyed, lean and very hard of physique." Martin's mission earns him martyrdom, but only after all kinds of derring-do involving a ship called The Countess of Richmond, characters screaming "Eject, eject!" and a cameo appearance by John Negroponte. Gun-club porn-packed with stodgily accurate descriptions ofweapons and acronymic slang. Hardly subtle, just bang-bang galore. First printing of 250,000
Praise for Frederick Forsyth
“Forsyth is truly the world’s reigning master of suspense”—Los Angeles Times
“When it comes to espionage, international intrigue, and suspense, Frederick Forsyth is a master.”—The Washington Post Book World