The Maltese Attack Jay Perin
East River Books, 342 pages, (ebook) $3.99, 9781736468005
(Reviewed: February, 2021)
In this thriller, set in the early ’70s, two teenagers learn what grit and determination mean when their survival is at stake in Libya.
Harry and his childhood friend Lilah are just starting to enjoy their budding teenage romance when Lilah’s parents are killed in a small plane crash. Lilah and her twin brother Dan are taken in by their half-sister and her billionaire husband Andrew Barrons, who live in New York. Barrons wants to adopt Dan—but not Lilah—as his heir. Aghast, Dan turns him down.
Meanwhile, Harry now lives with his family in Libya, where dictator Gaddafi and corporate raiders vie to seize Harry’s family’s small American oil company, a move that would bankrupt them. With Lilah desperate to talk to Harry, Barrons agrees to send her to Libya, seeing this benevolence as an opportunity to win over Dan.
When Lilah arrives in Libya, she doesn’t realize she’s a pawn in the oil game. She and Harry are kidnapped and, upon escape, they become political footballs, with good and evil forces pursuing them.
Once the chase begins, the book becomes a page-turner. The protagonists’ journey is rousing as they navigate the difficult terrain and consider whom to trust. Politics were complex in the early ‘70s, and the author manages to highlight political tensions without giving a history lesson.
The book is also chockful of interesting symbolism (Jared Sanders is the son of a Maltese immigrant; the Maltese attack is also a chess move), as well as biblical allusions (Lilah’s real name is Delilah; Harry’s family company is Genesis).
The story falters, however, when trying to explain the secondary characters’ enmities and alliances. In particular, Jared Sanders, a political candidate and possible friend of dictators, remains a shadowy figure. Because the author plans to continue the series, perhaps he intends to fill in this outline later.
The thrilling chase remains the drawing card for now, and fans of this genre won’t be disappointed.
The Maltese Attack
East River Books
978-1-7364680-1-2 $3.99 Ebook; $12.99 Paperback
The Maltese Attack opens in 1974 on the Egyptian/Libyan border, where U.S. Senator Temple is involved in a search-and-rescue mission involving young people he'd inadvertently played a role in endangering.
Even Temple's stint in the army hasn't prepared him for the active combat situation he faces. And this is only the opening salvo in a series of encounters that test him in various ways on the international arena, from dirty politics to the increasingly deadly involvements of diplomat's daughter Lilah in the clans and politics of the Middle East.
Charged with more than survival, Lilah and Harry find themselves immersed in a culture and political situation way over their heads. Temple also finds himself out of his league, even given his determination and abilities.
Jay Perin crafts tense scenes surrounding all three characters in a story that moves deftly through this world: "Could she fight through this nightmare? Could they escape to safety? The men who held this part of the world in their cruel grip did not plan to let their prisoners live. The ones who’d offered help could barely help themselves."
Part of the special strength of The Maltese Attack lies in its plot and subplots, in which danger moves from the Middle East and onto American soil. A successful mission does not mean a successful long-term outcome, as Temple, Harry, and Lilah discover.
Can two clever young people and a savvy senator defy political and economic forces at work in two nations?
Perin's careful crafting of both political ramifications and family interactions is well done, injecting strong psychological inspection into the overall story of intrigue and international conflict: "Without answering directly, Temple walked to the door. “Something else to remember... pride, self-respect... it might get injured, but time heals such wounds. A life once lost will not return. Not yours, not your family’s.” The boy would figure things out. After all, he knew very well there was one thing in the world Andrew wanted he didn’t have yet. The one person whose self-respect he wasn’t able to buy."
The result is a story replete with action and interpersonal inspection. It goes beyond political arenas to consider the choices, consequences, and lives of all who fall into the trap of family secrets and international conspiracies.
Thriller readers will find the use of three powerful characters and their different perceptions and strengths makes for a fast-paced and well-written story that offers hope and insight for formulating a brave new world forged on new alliances.
The Maltese Attackby Jay PerinEast River Books book review by Elizabeth Creel "If the White House and the CIA were indeed involved, the crisis Temple was trying to stave off had arrived."In a mistake he's lived to regret, Senator Temple let a corrupt businessman go free. Now that same businessman has taken over the world's biggest energy sector. It's hard enough dealing with the tensions going on back home through the politics, the scandals, and even the heartbreaksâlet alone the rising conflict in the Middle East. To make matters worse, the only ones who can help the senator are the oil tycoon families who are too greedy to depend on. Will Temple be able to thwart the criminal mastermind, or will old grudges and corruption get the better of them all?Frequently historical fiction can become bogged down, making the reading experience much more like that of a school lesson. Thankfully, this story keeps an even balance. It gives historical fiction fans plenty of history while giving thriller and fiction fans the action and suspense they're craving. In fact, there's enough here to keep almost every reader happy. Even romance fans can get a little something out of this story. Perin's book has many different interesting elements and themes, keeping readers intrigued and ready for more when the series continues. The characters, such as the protagonist, are well developed and interesting enough to keep anyone reading engaged. They are also likable enough to keep readers rooting for them. The plot moves quickly enough to prevent boredom, which again can often plague other historical fiction, but not so speedily as to skip details pertinent to the general storyline. Readers will definitely be ready to jump back in when the next book in this series comes out.