Beware the Jabberwock
Author: Chester D. Campbell
Publisher: Night Shadows Press, LLC (2012)
Binding: Paperback, 446 pages
Two old warhorses prove they still have the right stuff
Set in the 1988-89 time period, the story opens with a secret meeting in Vienna between unlikely participants. The Soviet Union is approaching its end, and not everyone is pleased. For some the status quo must be maintained, and that is the reason for the meeting.
Mauser, a man in his early thirties with sandy hair cut military style and a disposition as changeable as a chameleon is the first significant character the reader meets. He is followed by an unnamed Russian. At this point I advise the reader to begin listing the characters, leaving room to add more aliases and names, because most of the story’s characters will be introduced in the first 26 pages.
Blyth Ingram rents an old LCM from a boat yard in Port St. Joe, Florida. Ingram plans to use it to transport men and equipment to Oyster Island. The island is owned by Pan West Industries and used to test weapons. Mauser, now Ted, and several more of the characters joins him, including a couple of Russians.
From Florida the story jumps to the Smokey Mountains where a stocky man with a full beard is bounding down a rugged trail. Burk Hill, a former FBI agent, is now a wildlife photographer, a man looking for a mink to photograph. Burk Hill, the first old warhorse, has put the clandestine life behind him, or so he thinks. Finally the mink cooperates and the photo is made. Later, the DCI, Director of Central Intelligence or as it is commonly know, the CIA is admiring a gift, a photograph of a mink.
The US government’s National Security Agency monitors all types of communications and its computers and/or technicians look for certain words associated with certain people or groups. When a word such as Jabberwock appears several times, someone will notice it, and in the story someone does.
The second old warhorse is introduced in chapter 7. Cameron Quinn, a CIA agent once know as “Pachinko,” is meeting an unknown contact on a desolate beach on the island of Cyprus. Quinn is worried about the meeting place, but continues, hoping to learn what Jabberwock is. Quinn meets an Arab, who is a messenger from “The Fiery One,” but it’s an ambush, and his contact is shot before he can finish relaying the message.
The author, through Burk Hill, make two very noteworthy comments. “I got all hung up on the legalities and ethicalities. I finally accepted Cam Quinn’s version of reality, that you can’t fight unconventional wars with conventional means.” Another character, the Judge, responds, “So, to achieve justice, which, as you indicate, is our ultimate goal, we just introduce another concept called equity. If the outcome of the action is equitable, then justice has been served.” Positions I agree with.
Chester Campbell weaves an intriguing story of lies, deception, conflict, false flags, and assassination. The reader must pay attention or he or she will miss subtle hints and clues and will lose track of the story. If you read a book in small bites, take notes. Beware the Jabberwock fascinating tale, part who done it, part mystery, and part thriller.
Reviewed by: Lee Boyland (2012)