Terrorism's Shifting Winds
Author: Maurice H. Unger
Publisher: PublishAmerica (2009)
Binding: Paperback, 345 pages
Islamic terrorists are running hand-in-hand with powerful drug trafficking cartels in the western hemisphere to launch new attacks against the United States. Terrorism’s Shifting Winds is an action/suspense thriller that takes this collaboration between Mid-East terrorists and drug traffickers and weaves a story of intrigue that entails not only drug trafficking but the smuggling of a weapon of mass destruction into the United States. Jackie Randolph, an impetuous but resourceful ex-special agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration, is rehired for an undercover role. Toss in the antics of some fearsome, erstwhile Tennessee moonshiners, Mexican drug traffickers and some not so innocent white-collar vacationers at a wilderness retreat, and you have a robust tale about heroes and villains.
Terrorism's Shifting Winds is a fast-paced, tongue-in-cheek thriller that follows the nefarious deeds of four different groups -- South American drug traffickers, middle-eastern terrorists set on taking out a nuclear power plant in Tennessee with a mini-nuke smuggled out of Russia, vacationing Yuppies with trying to enhance their portfolios the hard-easy way, and a band of randy, rowdy rednecks right out of "Deliverance". For undercover DEA consultant Jackie Randolph, it's only a matter of time before one of them tries to kill her.
This book has some very high positives. The plot is carefully thought-out and artfully executed. Most of the characters are tried and true -- in this case, we have a plethora of traditional thriller bad guys. Lascivious hillbillies with shotguns harass the city folk and maniacal jihadists plot the destruction of American society -- just as you would expect. However, the author throws in a few twists that make all those people wandering around in the wilds of Tennessee seem as familiar as our next-door neighbors. For example, a young Arab American is recruited by Muslim Extremists and after basic terrorist training is stationed in urban Virginia -- working the student drug market and enjoying the life of a libidinous single man. Then one day, he is called on to become an airborne suicide bomber. Being shallow and selfish and rational, he doesn't find the idea of heavenly virgins all that alluring. This small side story of a young man caught up in something bigger than himself and his ineffective attempts to wiggle out of the pact is a nice counter-balance to the cliché-d image of the puritanical fanatic we've come to expect.
The book is a fun read -- there's something for everyone. There's a touch of Wonder Woman in Jackie Randoph -- she's brazen, tough and yet quite feminine. She has the over-the-top quality male authors often give their heroines -- yet, her quick temper and tendency to act before she thinks makes her seem human and real. Like most of us, she's a bundle of contradictions -- she irritates her friends by trying to run the show then lives up to her bravado by wrestling an enormous rattler and throwing it off a cliff. Men find her sexy -- but she intimidates them -- an amusing and unfortunate paradox. There are enough shoot-outs to satisfy the most avid "High Noon" fans -- and the muted demise of the evil Rafi is downright Heminway-esque. The author plays with his cast -- and his audience. One can imagine him rubbing his palms together and saying to himself, "Oh, boy, wait till they read THIS!" The action is clever and amusing like a modern version of "The Halelujah Trail" mixed with "Natural Born Killers" and peppered with some feminine Rambo-antics. It's the kind of yarn that just makes a camping trip.
Author Maurice Unger's tale is like popcorn. You can't stop until the bowl is empty -- and then you want more, which is why the book ends on a satisfying unresolved note setting the stage for another Jackie Randolph Adventure.
Reviewed by: Joyce Faulkner (2009)