From Publishers Weekly
The startling cover of Collins's new thriller, of a nuclear bomb exploding along a country road, well fits this frightening speculative tale, which describes how Iran might come into possession of a nuclear weapon. "As you read this," veteran journalist Collins (Fall from Grace; Oh, Jerusalem with Dominique Lapierre; etc.) writes in an author's note, "Iran possesses at least three, and possibly as many as six nuclear weapons," and then goes on to warn that "much of what you are about to read is true." The story Collins tells follows two basic plot lines: one follows the money, as Iranians transform opium gathered from Afghan poppies into heroin by way of Turkey, then into cash to fund their weapons program; the second follows disaffected CIA agent Jim Duffy as he's recruited from his Maine hideaway to prevent the Iranians from obtaining triggers for their nuclear devices. Both plot lines grab interest, but the novel would have been stronger if they were better integrated. The story is grounded in the deep research Collins is known for, which takes the reader into such arcane matters as encryption; nuclear arms; drug growing, drug processing and drug-running; money counterfeiting and laundering; Special Forces techniques. There's even a bit of romance, as Duffy falls for a widowed American ex-pat. "Many have asked why I didn't write this as a work of nonfiction," writes Collins. "I'm afraid that is just not possible. It would put innocent people at great risk." Nonetheless, this gripping novel features, along with strong action sequences and a wicked surprise ending, enough detail and verisimilitude to unnerve most readers at the same time that it entertains them.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Collins employs his talent as a nonfiction writer--he cowrote Is Paris Burning?
(1965)--in this engrossing story of Iran's quest for militant Islamic domination. In fact, Collins begins with a rather passionate argument for how, while much of his research could support the details of what he recounts as being true, this is indeed a work of fiction. (Dost thou protest too much, Mr. Collins?) At issue here is how Iran funds its alleged purchase of nuclear weapons--the dreaded WMD--and thus is able to keep its neighbors on high alert and the West in a state of panic. The source is opium, which is harvested throughout war-torn Afghanistan, processed in Turkey, and sold as high-grade heroin in the West. It's up to Jim Duffy, a retired CIA operative dragged back into action, to connect the links in this chain of corruption, where crazed zealots in positions of authority exploit devout Muslims to carry out unspeakable acts. (Compared to what is happening in Iran, Duffy concludes, the cold war was downright gentlemanly.) This is a compelling enough high-concept thriller on its own, but knowing there might be truth beneath the surface makes it disturbing on an altogether different level. Mary Frances WilkensCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved