Beirut: An Explosive Thriller
Publisher: Alexander McNabb (Creative Space), 2012
Gerald Lynch isn't exactly what you'd expect if your concept of British Intelligence Services bears any resemblance to James Bond. Under a fairly rude and gruff exterior, beats the heart of a true adrenaline junkie, with extremely sharp instincts, more comfortable in a life and death situation than sitting in a meeting with "suits." Rarely does he care a lot what others think of him; he gets the job done and comes back, something many operatives don't get the chance to do. The problem with Lynch, however, is that he's not exactly the subtle type. He drinks, womanizes (that part's a bit of the old Bond), and has no interest in explaining his actions and expects to be able do do whatever is necessary, without micromanagement.
So when he's investigating what looks like a straightforward case of money laundering, and a member of his team is found dead, with a beautifully calligraphed note with the dead man's name on it, Lynch knows there has to be more to it. The note-making is the pattern of a now-dead strongman, ruthless and arrogant, who provided such notes for his "hits," Lynch is pretty sure he knows where to look, but Lynch's top candidate for the crime is politically connected; there are many, many suits between him and the answers, and some of the folks who won't stand up to the politics are inside Lynch's own organization.
Brilliant, urbane, running, in fact, for the Presidency of Lebanon, Michel Freij is a high tech financier, a contractor for the American government,well known and liked. So far as the powers that be are concerned, even in the intelligence community, he's off limits to an inquisitive operative who keeps discovering yet more bodies, all linked in some way to Freij's numerous holdings.
British Intelligence efforts are further hampered by the sudden interest of the British Ambassador to Beirut, someone Lynch considers "the last crusty old cold war era twit left in the diplomatic service," and suddenly the case is shifted to the EJIC, the European Joint Intelligence Committee, and Lynch has to take on a partner, the daughter of the committee chair, and while a specialist in her own right in computer intelligence gathering. Nathalie Dubois, has been riding a desk while he's been on operations with real bullets flying, and she soon finds out there's a lot more to the intelligence services than tracking bits through networks, and her partner with no manners is a lot more than he seems.
The case is also a lot more than it seems. It's not just money laundering by a long shot. Freij has a secret, a weapon that nobody about, and has made a series of deals that could easily turn parts of Lebanon and most of the Middle East into a full scale war zone. Freij not only intends to become Lebanon's new strongman, but he intends to make groups who oppose him take the blame, labelling them terrorists and warmongers, so he can walk away from the election as Lebanon's new President. Lynch has to stop him before the bombs start falling, suits or no suits.
When you think of the years of unrest in this part of the world, McNabb's 's scenarios are entirely too terrifyingly plausible. The characters are multidimensional; Lynch has flaws and quirks that might not make him much of a superhero, but those flaws make him more real, and there's a lot of well-written action. I think you 'll like this one.