The Last Refuge by Ben Coes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Ben Coes shifts focus from the Indian subcontinent to the war torn, intrigue prone Middle East in his latest explosive Dewey Andreas#3 - The Last Refuge.
The premise is extraordinary. Israel has traditionally been a tipping point, a rallying cry amongst the nations of the Middle East. Coes throws all that pent up hatred and warring into the limelight with the ultimate what if scenario? What if any nation in the Middle East would become nuclear armed? What if they were to bomb Israel? What will Israel do?
It is this fear of Israel’s retaliation that has keep the Middle East in check. The unilateral actions taken by Israel in protecting its sovereign and in pursuing all those who have harmed Israel to their graves is legendary; from Nazi torturers to Palestinian terrorists - Israel has extracted its pound of flesh every time it has been provoked.
Kohl Meir - Dewey Andreas’s rescuer from Book#2 is kidnapped by VEVAK the Iranian secret service. As the great-grandson of Golda Meir Kohl is a high value target. He is being held at Evin prison, the most secure and frightening prison in all of Iran. Dewey Andreas is not somebody who will let this go, especially as it was Kohl and his Shayetet Thirteen which had saved his life at the cost of sacrificing 7 Israeli soldiers. Andreas makes it his mission to get Kohl Meir out of Iran alive. A tough ask by any sense.
Soon this mission spirals into an impossible one with the news leaking that Iran have successfully created an nuke and is getting it ready to target Tel Aviv. Rescuing Meir and saving Tel Aviv becomes important and an unattainable priority by the looks of it; with leaks in Mossad, CIA and a new President at helm of US ready to extend the hand of friendship towards Iran, Andreas does not have many options and he has to improvise on the fly.
With Israel targeting high profile Iranians worldwide in retaliation for the kidnapping and imprisonment of Meir; the mullahs of the Supreme Council blinded by their hatred of Israel decide to unleash their weapon. Time is running out for Andreas and with no logistical, operational and tactical support from the US government or the CIA this may prove to be an impossible mission for him…
But Andreas has allies, Iranian information minister Lon Qassom and Taris Darwil a journalist for Al Jazeera are working overtime to find out where the nuke is located, so that Andreas can be informed and Tel Aviv saved. Sacrificing their lives in getting the word out to Andreas, they strive to show that there are some good Iranians still left.
Going up against an fanatical Mahmoud Nava - hell bent on nuking Tel Aviv and the sadistic Abu Paria the chief of VEVAK - a ruthless, intelligent man who will let nothing come in his way of maintaining the status quo in Iran, Andreas has his work cut out for him. Throw in a double dealing Mossad agent, a China working off its own plans - Andreas is facing insurmountable odds.
Reading through the book, the reader understands Andreas’s rationale and his utmost determination to save Kohl Meir. Afterall it is a favor owed to a man who saved his life against improbable odds. You can almost sympathize with Andreas’s feeling of being at cross roads with himself. He wants to live a life of his own but at the same time he can’t let go of his duties to his country when it needs him the most.
Andreas is a flawed hero, he drinks almost excessively, is prone to depression, does not value his life, undertakes almost suicidal missions to make peace with what he feels is his fault for the death of his wife and child. He can also kill in cold blood in pursuit of his aims. Andreas can be any soldier or operative who has survived the forge of war and come back home only to find that while he was busy surviving the world has moved forward without him.
A 3.5 stars rounded off to 4. Ben Coes continues to tell a good story using Dewey Andreas.