About the Author
Sophie Weiner is a freelance translator and book publishing assistant from Baltimore, Maryland. After earning degrees in French from Bucknell University and New York University, Sophie went on to complete a master’s in literary translation from the Sorbonne, where she focused her thesis on translating wordplay in works by Oulipo authors. She has translated and written for web-based companies dedicated to art, cinema, and fashion as well as for nonprofit organizations. Growing up with Babar, Madeline, and The Little Prince, Sophie was bitten by the Francophile bug at an early age, and is fortunate enough to have lived in Paris, Lille, and the Loire Valley.
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The Morgenstern Project
A Consortium Thriller
By David Khara, Sophie Weiner
Le French BookCopyright © 2013 Editions Critic
All rights reserved.
Poland, December 1942
Bundled in the thick gray coat swiped from an SS guard, the boy felt neither the wounds inflicted during months of abuse, nor the bitter cold of the Polish winter. The raw night air that filled his lungs as he raced on gave him unspeakable joy and fueled his drive to escape his torturers.
He wasn't feeling tired. His gait, in fact, was growing stronger and faster as he gained distance from that monstrous place. Eytan paced himself to the sound of his steady breathing. In his mind, he replayed the events that had led to his escape. Eytan saw himself seizing the gun that the guard had shoved in his face and firing the bullet into the man's forehead with cold accuracy. He had then taken aim at the gas container he had seen on his many trips to the lab and pulled the trigger. The German soldiers had panicked. Eytan would never forget the furious look on Bleiberg's face. Bleiberg, the scientist who had enslaved him and forced him to endure dozens, maybe hundreds, of injections and brutal tests.
Of all the kids subjected to this very same treatment, he alone had survived. Why had the experiments killed all the others but made him faster, more agile, and stronger? Each time the guards carried away the wasted body of another child, his guilt grew. But over time, anger replaced the anguish.
Now his rage was as icy as this December night.
It would keep him alive no matter what, and he would use it to strike down those responsible for all the suffering.
* * *
The Canadian Forest on the Us border, present day
The solitary traveler was struggling to make his way through the forest. With each step, his muscular legs sank deeper into the thick blanket of snow. The cruel and relentless gusts of wind refused to let up for even a second. Snowflakes collected on his face, and the cold stung his cheeks. Again and again, he had to wipe his protective goggles dry. He readjusted his hood, tightened the straps of his backpack, and looked at the compass clenched in his gloved hand to make sure he was still heading south. Despite the violent elements unleashed on him, Eytan stayed the course.
The wind rushed past his ears, and he swore it carried the voices of longlost friends. Vassili, the silent Siberian titan. Karol, the scrawny teacher from Krakow. And of course, the charismatic Janusz, with his sandy-colored beard. Eytan even thought he saw them emerging from behind the trees, guns in hand and their faces worn down by sorrow and combat.
Eytan stopped and leaned against a tree. A lump was rising in his throat.
"I miss you guys," he told his visions.
He took a deep breath and gathered himself. This was no time to reminisce. Mental weakness was out of the question. He had to keep going, no matter the cost.
The lives of loved ones depended on it.CHAPTER 2
Iraq, spring 2003
With one elbow pressed against the passenger-side window and both eyes glued to his binoculars, Sergeant Terry scoped the dunes in search of the enemy. All five senses were on high alert. A low-flying backup chopper was whipping up ochre sand clouds along the tortuous route taken by the recon unit's Humvee.
Timothy Terry ignored the sweat trickling down his cheeks and onto his lips, chapped by the scorching afternoon sun. The seasoned soldier had only one thought on his mind: bringing his three team members back safe and sound.
Since the start of the US invasion of Iraq three days earlier, they had completed no fewer than eight missions, five of them under enemy fire. On top of that, they were dealing with all the ordinary hurdles accompanying a disorganized war—meager supplies, shitty equipment, and inconsistent orders, to name a few.
Tim Terry was the veteran member of his unit. The once-shy high school student from Ohio had come out of his shell during his ten years as a Marine, when wars had broken out in the Balkans, the Middle East, Africa, and Persia. The years had toughened him and given him nerves of steel, plus a real compassion for his fellow Marines. This had earned him the respect of both his superior officers and those who served alongside him. And to top it off, the guy had killer aim.
Good thing. Killing was his job, as much as he disliked it.
In their stories and news clips, embedded reporters liked to make heroes of the Marines. And many were, whether they were serving on the front lines or working behind the scenes as engineers, medics, or communications specialists. At the heart of it, though, they were all there to do the same thing—kill on command. And Tim Terry carried out that assignment like no one else.
Still, this stint would be his last. He had put in his time and had no intentions of re-upping, even though he knew he would be promoted to master sergeant if he stayed in the corps. He had no desire to climb a chain of command that was more preoccupied with its own advancement than getting the job done. How many times had his unit gotten caught in friendly fire?
How many absurd orders had he been forced to obey just to give the journalists a story to send back home? Too many. In any event, too many to fill another three to five years of his life.
"You know what they say about guys with big guns: the bigger the gun, the smaller the dick," the driver cracked, breaking up the two Marines in the backseat.
Hansen had gone five minutes without making a stupid joke. A new record, Terry thought as he looked at his wise-ass buddy wearing a stupid grin. The scrawny troublemaker with the maturity level of a teenager was a regular standup comedian. He didn't take anything seriously. His humor was usually borderline or straight-out lewd, so Terry and the other guys had to keep him as far as possible from the officers just to avoid any drama.
Terry and Hansen were together most of the time, both on and off duty. This meant the sergeant was frequently at the butt end of the comic's jokes. If Terry took a one-liner the wrong way, it was usually because he was fatigued. Someone who didn't know the two might have thought they had nothing in common, but in fact, they were both driven to excel at their jobs. Hansen, the twenty-three-year-old goofball, was unparalleled when it came to operating a Humvee in difficult terrain and he had almost superhuman stamina. He could drive for three days straight. Granted, he downed vitamins by the handful.
"Keep your eyes on the road. I'm scoping the surroundings. And you newbies back there, quit laughing at his lame jokes," Terry ordered. "You're just egging him on."
The remark set off another round of guffaws. Baker and Charlie were hard to tell apart. They were tall and buff, and despite their efforts to look brave, their eyes betrayed a certain amount of fear. The boys were fresh arrivals from Parris Island boot camp.
"I mean seriously, what the hell are we doing here?" Hansen said. "There's nothing but fucking rocks and sand that'll wreck this tin can. I spend hours cleaning the engine every time we get back to base. Why'd they send only one team to check out the area if it's a danger zone? Isn't that messed up?"
"You're a Marine, man. You knew what you signed up for," Terry teased. "We're a recon unit, so ..."
"Chill. I know what we're supposed to be doing. But does that mean we have to like being out here all by ourselves with our asses exposed? This is the perfect setup for an ambush."
"We're not exactly by ourselves. They've assigned us a backup chopper. So shut up. I'm trying to focus. And you two in the back, stay alert."
Twenty minutes went by with only the steady roar of the Humvee engine and the whir of the helicopter blades.
Too many hiding spots for the enemy, Terry thought as he inspected the dry rolling landscape. They could surge out at any second.
An abrupt swerve threw all four passengers against the side of the Humvee. Hansen slammed on the brakes, inciting a chorus of protests.
"Just a small technical problem! Instead of giving me shit, how about you cover me," he ordered.
Hansen opened the door and leaped out of the vehicle, followed by his fellow Marines. The newbies stationed themselves on each side of the Humvee. They lowered themselves into firing position, one knee on the ground.
Hansen made his way around the vehicle and opened the hood.
"God dammit! Shit!"
"What's going on?" Terry barked as he approached his partner, his eyes still fixed on the surroundings.
"Broken drive shaft and an oil leak the size of Niagara Falls, Sergeant," Hansen said, kicking the bumper. "And the tires are blown."
"Did you hit any rocks?" Terry asked.
"No, I swear I didn't!"
"Can you get us out of here?"
"Not in this piece of junk. It's a good thing our loving commanders provided us with ... Hold up, where'd the fucking chopper go?"
Terry looked up and searched the sky. Preoccupied with the vehicle, he hadn't noticed the disappearance of their aerial support.
"I can't believe it," he grumbled as he held down the switch on the transmitter attached to his protective vest. "Vanguard to command, our vehicle is immobilized in the middle of unfriendly territory."
"Command to vanguard, copy that loud and clear," a choppy voice confirmed.
"Would you be kind enough to inform us of the whereabouts of our backup chopper?"
"Command to vanguard, we're checking on that."
"That's right. Check on it, asshole. And take your sweet time," Terry sneered after cutting off the transmission.
Beneath the wrecked Humvee, Hansen was cursing up a storm. When he came out a few seconds later, he was wearing a worried look, one that Terry had never seen on him before.
"Dude, there are shards of metal under there. Something busted up our ride."
"Are you serious? What? A mine would have vaporized us."
There was no time to get to the bottom of it. Terry knew they couldn't stay out in the open.
"Guys, we'll station ourselves in twos behind the rocks on either side of the hill over there," he ordered. "Hansen's with Baker. Charlie's with me. We'll cover each other while we wait for the cavalry. Go!"
The men started running toward their posts.
The first shot snagged Charlie in the arm. He fell to the sand with all the weight of his massive body. Seconds later another blast caught Baker and sent him flying through the air. He landed on his back, a hole in his belly.
Cut off before they could reach the hill, Terry and Hansen dashed back to the busted vehicle, their only shelter under what was now heavy fire. They hoped to cut off the invisible assailants' field of vision.
The fire power shrieked as it hit the vehicle. The two men tucked their heads into their shoulders like turtles and prayed for the storm to pass. When the gunfire finally died down, they could hear the newbies crying in agony.
"Vanguard to command, under enemy fire. Two men hit."
Only static met the sergeant's call. Terry peered out to check on his teammates' status. Charlie was twisting in pain, his uniform coated in blood.
Baker wasn't moving.
"We can't leave them like this," Terry said.
"Are you nuts?" Hansen shouted back. "These aren't some amateur schlubs defending their village. We're dealing with pros here. It looks like a Republican Guard ambush."
"Do you really think they'd be waiting for us out here? Let other assholes do the analysis. Just cover me on my signal. Now!"
Sergeant Terry left his hideout and crawled toward Baker while Hansen pointed his M4A1 into the distance and kept firing. Tim grabbed the wailing soldier's jacket, and using all his strength, he pulled him back to the Humvee.
Hansen shot Terry an angry look. "Not the best timing for your little rescue and recovery mission."
"Can you think of a better time? I'm going back out."
"Just give me a second to reload!" But his commanding officer had already sprung into the open.
"Fucking hero," Hansen muttered as he stepped out of hiding. He took aim and got ready to shoot another round. A snap. A splatter of blood. Crawling toward Charlie, Terry heard Hansen cry out and turned to his buddy. He saw Hansen's assault rifle fall to the ground. The severed hand was still attached to the weapon. Terry fell to his knees like a puppet whose strings had just been cut.
Terry didn't know what to do. It was a moment of hesitation he immediately regretted. What summed up the life of a soldier? A hundred good decisions. One bad decision, and it was over.
The dreaded bullet and the countless others that followed shredded his thigh. He collapsed, dizzy from the burning metal. With his eyes lost in the blue sky, he saw a helicopter soaring out from behind a hill. He sank into a delirious state where time stood still.
Dangling between coma and death, Terry heard muffled voices. A childhood memory flashed in his mind. He saw himself, his ear glued to the door of his sister's bedroom, where she often spent entire afternoons with her boyfriend. Terry had giggled at their moaning and groaning. It wasn't until much later that he understood what those sounds meant.
The memory faded.
Now it was he who was groaning, and it felt anything but good. In the middle of the increasingly dense fog, a figure leaned over him.
"He's beat up bad, sir, but he's alive."
"I sure hope so," another ghost-like figure said before squatting beside him. "You're gonna be all right, kid. Prepare him for the evacuation, and be careful."
Terry struggled to stay conscious, despite the pain in his legs and spine that felt like jolts of electricity. He clenched his teeth as hard as he could. He feared his molars would shatter.
But as the men fussed around him, blessed relief arrived. A wave of heat rushed through his arm, and he was liberated. He had the sense of floating on air.
In that moment, each and every shortcoming of the Marine Corps vanished. The cavalry had saved him, Hansen, and the two rookies.
God bless America!
"What's the status on the other three?" asked the man leading the operation. He was walking alongside the stretcher as it carried Terry toward the helicopter.
"Two seriously wounded, and the driver is in critical condition, sir. What are your orders, sir?"
The superior officer placed a hand on Terry's sweat-drenched forehead and wiped it with an unexpected tenderness.
"Semper fi," Terry stammered, swept away by the morphine that filled his limbs with protective numbness.
Semper fidelis. The Marine Corps motto.
"Sorry, boy," the man mumbled.
After a long silence, he gave the order.
"As for the other three ... Finish them off."CHAPTER 3
New Jersey, present day
He could already hear the commotion inside. Michael Dritch smiled as he gazed at the storefront window, behind which lived hoards of novels, comic books, and miscellaneous pieces of merchandise, including superhero figurines and Star Wars T-shirts.
He pushed open the door to the small indie bookstore, his favorite hangout whenever he had a free afternoon. He looked forward to breathing in the vanilla aroma tinged with must. It meant that he would soon be transported to another world.
Lining the walls of the narrow shop were shelves tightly packed with works of science fiction. Rare comics filled a set of racks running down the middle of the store. The precious collector's items were in airtight and light-resistant cases.
The steady influx of new stock conveniently justified Michael's frequent visits to this place, which he kept secret from his coworkers. They didn't know that behind the hard-nosed face, which put off more than a few people, there was an introvert who dreamed of pirates, outer space, and caped superheroes.
But Michael found so much more in this wonderful shop called Morg's Universe. It provided him with a community of fellow enthusiasts who were like family to him. And as was true for most biological families, differences of opinion often led to heated arguments.
Seconds earlier, in fact, someone had thrown down the gauntlet.
"Hey guys," Michael called out, greeting his fellow patrons.
He was rewarded with a couple of distracted heys before the argument picked up again. The insults were flying so fast, he could barely tell who was saying what. Watching the verbal joust between the two geeks hyped on Red Bull made him feel like he was attending a WrestleMania match at Caesars Palace. In his head, he could hear Michael Buffer introducing the two contestants.
Excerpted from The Morgenstern Project by David Khara, Sophie Weiner. Copyright © 2013 Editions Critic. Excerpted by permission of Le French Book.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
David Khara on what inspired the Consortium thrillers: “I’ve always been fascinated by World War II because more than any other conflict it set the foundations for the world we now live in, and it often did so at a very high cost we cannot even imagine. I wanted to use entertaining fiction to explore the complexity and stakes of the war. The character Eytan stemmed from my research into that period. He’s a combination of information I gleaned from the testimonials of numerous resistance members and death camp survivors.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I loved this book as much as the two previous ones. We meet Eytan again, who was a young man in 1942 before being experimented on by Hitler's medical team, and who is still a young man. He has more strength, intelligence, power than any other living human, meaning the Nazi experiment succeeded. But Eytan wants to fight for the common good. With Jeremy, whom we met in the first book, his wife and their baby, they will try to stop the evil group wanting to analyze him, to be able to create many more replicas and have perfect soldiers. It is an adventure fiction, packed with action and humor, with characters you sincerely get to like and as little accent on violence as possible. It's the last tome of a trilogy, but can perfectly be a satisfactory read as a standalone. But if you read one of the three books, you will want the other ones too!
I am ready for the next book, great story and believable characters. One in the series of best book's I have read in recently . Keep up the great work
Keeps you on the edge of your seat
It is difficult to express in words how much The Morgenstern Project moved my thoughts and emotions. I received a copy from Eidelwess and really took my time reading it. I tried to digest it slowly because this was Morg's story. It was told simultaneously alternating between Morg's past and Morg's current life as he fights on the current front against the Consortium's machinations and his fight to distance himself from the Bleiberg project. Morg is this larger than life Mossad agent who hunts war criminals, typically those from World War II. In The Morgenstern Project Morg meets up again with Jackie and Jeremy whom we met in the first book, The Bleiberg Project. They developed a deep bond with Eytan Morgenstern in that story which continues though they have not seen him since the events in that book ended. Jackie and Jeremy are targeted by a faction of the U.S. government who have been made aware of Morg's longevity and they want to study him and are willing to use whatever means they can to capture him, including targeting his friends and whatever family he may have. As the story progresses Eli tells the story of how he met Morg and how their lives had intertwined throughout the many years. We also meet more of Morg's family and as they fight this new front created by The Consortium we step through Morg's childhood and learn about his history. The Morgenstern Project is the best of the series so far. As far as I can tell the series grows in character development, story development and David Khara, the author, grows in writing, story and character development skills as well. The book is full of excitement, action and the technology and niche of this story regarding Morg's physical abilities. As I read about Morg's past and the current story I was struck with a huge sadness for what he and the people of Poland went through during World War II and for what some of the story depicted during the current day part of the story. The Morgenstern Project draws you into everyone's lives in the story. At one point I was literally moved to tears and that is not something that easily occurs for me when reading a story, but David Khara wrote a very moving story and I look forward to seeing what happens next.
It 's a gripping thriller, adventurous, with many compelling characters and an engaging and well built storyline. Jackie Walls and Jeremy Cobin are a young American couple from New Jersey. He has a shop, she is a police officer and they have a beautiful baby girl, Annie. During their trip very adventurous in Europe they have known Eytan Morgestern that helped and rescued them. Jackie and Jeremy have not heard from him until he reappears in their lives to save them again from an attacks. This time offers them to join him in his fight. During World War II, in Poland, he was victim of an experiment: now they're looking because they want to study him and maybe try to repeat the experiment on other people. Their team also belong Eli Karman, an old man, Greg, responsible for the security of Jackie and Jeremy, and Avi, a charming doctor. Can they defend and save him? The various characters in this novel are many and all well characterized. Eytan is a brave man although mysterious, is an Israeli agent, his past not know anyone with accuracy. He was deported to a camp in Poland during the war and they underwent him an experiment. Jackie is a brave woman, with a strong sense of duty. She loves her family but also loves her work which performs in an excellent way. It 's a thriller adventurous and exciting, full of twists, suspense and mystery. In this story, nothing is missing: there is conspiracy, sects and secret alliance. attacks, war strategies, experiments and can not miss a bit of love and romance. It 's very well written, with a style and a language simple and essential, also the various descriptions are minimalist and effective, enrich the text but does not make it heavy and boring. The pace is very fast and captivating: the history alternate continuously past and present, and often changes the city in which the action takes place. We pass continuously from Poland of 1942/43, to the contemporary New Jersey, through present and wartime London and with escape briefly to Tel-Aviv. It's the third book in the series "Consortium Thriller", can be read as a stand-alone but for an easier and understandable reading, I recommend reading the series in order. I recommend it to those who love thrillers and novels full of action and adventure I have received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
David Khara once again writes a taut, fast thriller that weaves remnants of WWII atrocities with present day military aspirations. Khara does an expert job of taking his protagonist, a holdover from Nazi experiments, and places him on the frontlines of military efforts to meld men and machines. This is one tale whose back to the future aspect is balanced by its references to Oscar Pistorius and the future his capacities suggest. Sophie Weiner, the expert translator, manages again to produce a book in Americanized English that is indistinguishable from one originally written in it. The language and idioms are perfect. No awkwardness in language exists at all, as the story flows with characters from Israel, Poland, England, Germany, the U.S. and Argentina. This is the third in a series, and while it is enjoyable to read earlier books, it is not essential. I received this book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Splitting the action into multiple time periods, this thriller is engrossing from the very first page.It has Nazis, secret societies, compelling characters and a story worth telling.. Khara writes with just the right level of detail to create great mental images and keep the story moving.. Whether it is the forests of Poland during WWII, England post war, South America, or present day America, the action is exciting, the plot is thrilling, and the human interaction compelling. I wish the book could have been longer, I hated to see it end.