Athriller focuses on terrorism, international political unrest, and a married couple who always find themselves on the run.
This fourth installment of Freda’s action series featuring Samantha and James Coppi begins at a heavily attended Baptist church service in northwest Texas where Sam’s father is the pastor. It’s also where a van full of armed Palestinian nationalists lie in wait, primed to swoop in and terrorize the congregation. Unlucky for the Palestinians is the appearance of James, an Army veteran, CIA operative, and private detective, whose scheduled pulpit speech is interrupted by the violence. He courageously intervenes and saves most of the congregants from harm but, in doing so, has now become the target of a Palestinian terrorist group and its ruthless leader. The main henchman, Faakhir, is sent back to exact lethal vengeance (“qisas”) on James and his entire family for thwarting the terrorist plot at the church, even after the detective receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his bravery. Sam and James regroup at their tony Colorado horse ranch, but this respite is short-lived, as they turn their attention to selling the family fashion empire, embarking on a railroad venture, and negotiating a business contract with a royal prince. After James rushes off to Iran to aid in the exile efforts of the shah, Sam is viciously kidnapped and held as bait to get to her husband. Set against the political unrest of the Iranian Revolution in the late 1970s, when Middle Eastern terrorism expanded outward, the violence is harrowing and palpable. Thankfully, several subplots involving the evolution of Sam and James’ relationship and their loving interactions with their children and extended family inject much-needed humanity into a story that at times is overwhelmingly brutal. The mad dash to save Sam puts James in mortal danger as the novel globe-trots through Afghanistan, Paris, Lebanon, Monaco, and Pakistan. As evidenced in previous volumes, Freda’s protagonists remain a uniquely daring duo, and the author’s knack for high-speed plotting, dastardly villains, and consistent action is once again on full display in this exciting thrill ride. International suspense fans new to the series will find this thriller satisfying but may want to familiarize themselves with the beginning of Sam and James’ adventures in the inaugural volume, A Police Action (2017).
Two durable heroes anchor a briskly paced tale of retribution, intrigue, and a daring mission.
Pacific Book Review
Family and foreign intrigue go hand-in-hand in this latest installment of the Sam and James thriller series. For those unaware of the wife and husband protagonist pair, these are very rich people who came from very humble beginnings and now own and oversee various enterprises in the U. S. and around the world. When this story begins, they’re in the middle of divesting themselves from a fashion company and about to buy a railroad. However, an awful lot of awfulness comes in between those two transactions including mass murder, kidnapping, para-military assaults, and more.
It all begins when James agrees to speak in his wife’s (Sam’s short for Samantha) dad’s church in Lubbock, Texas. That happens to be the day that Middle Eastern terrorists have chosen to attack and kill the local parishioners to show America that no place is safe, not even in America’s heartland. Unfortunately, the terrorists didn’t plan on James being there. While they are able to murder a number of worshippers, James borrows a handgun and manages to dispatch all the bad guys with extreme prejudice. The attack, while labeled heinous, is seen as a failure for terrorism and a victory for gold old fashioned American individualism. In fact, James is even given a medal by the President of the United States for his valiant efforts. As you might expect, this frosts the top terror planning boys and they immediately put out a “Qisas” on James, which means not only is he to be killed, but so too are his wife and children.
There soon follow a number of wild and wooly events. First, James turns his palatial ranch in Colorado into a virtual fortress in order to better protect his family from the attempted revenge he knows is coming. His empire is such however, that he can’t let personal woes stop business necessities, and before you know it, he’s orchestrating the removal of a Prince and his family from revolutionary events in the monarch’s country to safe harbors in the U. S. A. But in the middle of all this, James’s wife, Sam, is kidnapped in Europe and spirited away to Lebanon. Well, James isn’t about to let that go unrebuked. So he puts together a virtual military operation to rescue his wife, offer himself for ransom in her place, and gain deeper knowledge about just who is behind all this geopolitical intrigue and outright nastiness.
Author Freda has a well-stocked imagination and a built-in talent for storytelling. His plots, subplots, and multiple plot tributaries have a way of branching off and eventually making their way back to the core of the story. His characterizations are vivid, giving you enough knowledge to know just what you need to know at the particular moment to keep up, but not more than you need to know, which might spoil some of the surprises he holds for climactic purposes. Freda uses dialogue extensively to keep the chronicle unfolding at a faster pace than prose might provide. His habit of pinballing between tenses, often in the same paragraph, can be distracting, but not enough so to dilute the fun he’s having the reader run through. With a hero and heroine like James and Sam (and of course their fabulous wealth that seems to be available to help solve any dilemma whether it be commerce or crime), these two make all the husband/wife teams that have come before look like pikers indeed. If you’re into escapism, you can wallow neck deep in it and enjoy a multitasking thrill ride in this page-turner called Qisas.
Qisas named as finalist for best thriller 2021 by Pacific Book