Nathan West is in a race against time. A ship with a large consignment of illegal narcotics is set to be offloaded in California. The drugs are half of a transaction that will fill the coffers of those engaged in a plot to take out reformist leader Mikhail Gorbachev. West is operating under an alias and operating in an undercover (sub rosa) capacity. He is in communication with his CIA-connected superior Buddy Hayden about the progress of the mission. The operation by the Soviets and their allies has been dubbed “Red Sword.” The counter-offensive to this mission by the US is called “Thorn.”
Hayden has a high-level source in the Soviet government, Colonel Dimitri Petroff. Petroff is on the precipice of self-destruction as a result of his longtime wife’s passing. Petroff has sought solace with the cold comfort of alcohol, his depression and addiction threatening the success of the mission. Petroff is being watched by the coup plotters for signs of disloyalty. The timetable for “Red Sword” is tentative, the plotters want Gorbachev and his reforms to end. The men who have conspired with the Soviets to move the heavy weight of narcotics run the gamut of solid to loose cannons.
The monotony of surveillance weighs on West, but the consequences of mission failure are too grave to ignore. He utilizes his sleuthing skills adeptly and soon locates the boat to be used in ferrying the cache of drugs. He communicates the find to his superiors, but knows they can’t pounce on the traffickers until the right time. The decision to let one load of drugs through leaves West and his men in an ethical quandary, as well as keeping other agencies in the dark. However, the integrity of the mission is vital, as is the future relations of the Americans and Soviets. As the investigation/operation approaches its peak, failure on either side would prove catastrophic. The balance of power in the world may shift dramatically in the wake of these events.
Thorn is the sequel to the riveting thriller Red Sword. The action continues right where its predecessor concluded, with the pieces still being strategically placed by both sides. The reader is gripped with a palpable sense of anticipation as the coup planners push forward with their malevolent machinations, the fervor of the Cold War becoming more pitched with every move made. Author Norman Wood has hit a home run with his continuation of the Red Sword narrative. The dramatic action that fuels this excellent narrative make this a top-notch read that proves impossible to put down.
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