Shifting Sands: Michael Shusko
A family all in the Marines and yet each one vying for the top spot as they quarrel, dispute and even argue when together. Two young men are sent on a mission but the end result is sabotage and they wind up dead. Someone is out to compromise Iran’s national security and a group of Americans were sent to audit their facilities to learn whether they are producing weapons of mass destruction. A new head has been chosen and now that Colonel Mostafa Sabri has ordered that the Americans are not aloud to come inside, sends them packing and orders that the man formerly in charge be taken in for questioning what happens next is even more terrifying. Hearing the voice of the man that is considered the drug, arms, sex-trafficking lord and whose role is to control the market, what happens that causes him to take these two young men out and what did he hope to gain? Within the lab is a young Iranian physicist named Dr. Sara Qaderi who is taking a chance and risking her life smuggling intelligence and leaking it to the UN detailing her deadly work at this nuclear plant. But, time is short and Sabri is dangerous and his goal is to take out any opposition. Americans are smart, strong and she considers them not to be trusted but what happens that brings her to working with the first of our disgruntled brothers, Nick Shane an American Marine whose job it is to get her and the information she carries to Afghanistan. At this point Israel is concerned about what Iran might be doing and if need be will think nothing twice about dropping a bomb on the doorstep. But, first let’s get to know Nick, Mark and Joel better as they meet for their mother’s birthday and the friction is worse than the worst static electricity or lightning striking during a deadly storm.
The war is heating up and Mark is about to be deployed as well as Nick and Joel but for different jobs, war zones and missions. At the same time Sara meets with her contact and hands him some Intel to pass on to the Americans hoping it gets there before they realize that she is a spy. Meanwhile, Celik, the drug lord and the man behind wanting to profit from the nuclear weapons, drugs, arms and sex-trafficking learns about his competition, finds out he is meeting with members of the CIA, Karen and Steve and hopes to devise a plan to take him out.
Celik wants Sirvan the operative working with the US gone and the PJAK eliminated but there is much as we get to know Steve who now learns about the United Islamic Caliphate. Steve Connors a counterterrorism operative working along with Karen Brenner, the chief of the Iranian Desk at the CIA are now working together to get Dr. Qaderi over to the United States but first getting the Intel she has prepared while working in an Iranian nuclear plant. According to her Intel and relating it to the Ambassador they learned that Iran might be working on a clandestine nuclear weapons program. Iran she also learned is close to developing a nuclear bomb and Sara Qaderi has been passing information to the United States through Sirvan and another man who owns a rug shot. Sirvan enlightens Karen to the latest enemy the United Islamic Caliphate and this is just the beginning. Sirvan realizes that Celik is setting him up and smuggling and politics is deadly and dangerous which brings us to how they communicate but that is classified and cannot be revealed.
Dr. Sara Qaderi is a nuclear physicist at the Habdan Nuclear Power Plant in eastern Iran. Her role is to head the nuclear weapons research program there and is not happy with the government in Tehran. She has been sending mid-grade level Intel on the uranium enrichment program there through one of her Kurdish contacts the man who owns the rug shop.
The electricity is high and tensions are at their worst as they learned that Habdan will be one of the first targets that the Israelis will hit stated the Colonel Tony Martino as he and Nick talk about the threat, what has to be done to rid themselves of it and the next think we know not only Nick but his two brothers are going to be deployed within a day of each other. Nick does not want any more of his men killed and states what they have outlined would be a suicide mission by wanting one team to infiltrate the sovereign Islamic Republic of Iran, fly twenty miles unnoticed through their airspace, at night to break into Habdan which is very well guarded to get the Iranian physicist out and to the United States. Karen expands by telling Nick that Sara will be waiting for him outside of the power plant but will they get there and get out alive?
Major Mark Shane, Captain Nick Shane and Sergeant Joel Shane reported for duty as Colonel Martino explained the mission. Several other officers were there and in order to complete the mission rules have to be broken, certain protocols in place and Joel would handle the Intel, Nick part of the MARSOC Raiders and Mark one of the bet officers around. Hold your breath when you read how they intend to do this as you meet General Wiley, learn more about Martino and then when the mission takes off and the end results are revealed one man is down and Nick is missing and Joel is seriously injured.
While they are in Iran hoping to extract the doctor and the mission is declared a failure and they think that Nick and Sara are gone, Steve is meeting with his own operative named Kamran who has taken him as hostage but manages to form their own unholy alliance to stop what has already been started hoping that working together the Turkish crime boss set up the ambush and made it look like the Kurds took out the two young men at the start of the novel. Working with this man Steve to get some Intel and hopefully get Sadik. When the mission was done Steve asked to go with Kamran to Iran to help him take down the Turkish Mafia and he agreed. Things spiral out of control when all three Mark, Nick, Gunney who works with Nick, Joel and all of their men go into Iran, get close to the Nuclear Lab and the end result will take readers into the heart of the explosions, the insurgents when hearing their voices, the bombs going off and then getting Sara but everyone thinking she was dead along with Nick. When Joel looks at the Intel and pictures from the scene he notices something and realizes that his brother might be alive and Sara too. The research is extensive into this area of assessing the scene of a bomb and a crime and the end result will startle readers and let you know that there is much more danger to come. Colonel Sabri commanded the soldiers and ordered them to fire upon the helicopter but when he takes his weapon and points it against Sara’s head, tries to kill and torture Nick the end result is quite amazing as even with injuries his strength and fortitude prevailed but somehow when planting a mine the Colonel never expected an explosive ending.
Mark and Joel going after Nick and Sara even if the survive will Joel after incurring life-threatening injuries. With Getting Joel into the helicopter when it finally arrives, hoping to get him to an area or place to give him a blood transfusion using Sara’s blood the EMT/Paramedic Jerome works miracles and goes more than an extra mile to try and safe his life but will that be enough? Hoping to dress the wounds and stop the bleeding the tension rises, a Medevac at this point out of the question and a hope for a miracle to save his life. Enter Iran and the nuclear plant; hear what is being done to create these nuclear bombs. Listen to Sara as she addresses the United Nations and hope that both Russia and China will support us in pushing for sanctions against Iran. Added in what happens to Habden and the lab? What about the inspectors will they be allowed to come in to see if they are making nuclear weapons? A dramatic and tension filled ending that only author Michael Shusko can create as you read the ending, listen to the final words and wonder what is coming next? Will Nick and Sara meet once she goes to Austria to work? What about his relationship with Mark? Will Joel live? The epilogue has its own surprise ending but we all know when one terrorist is taken down there are always more to follow. Shifting Sands: Tradecraft- Phase One: What’s next? A heart wrenching terrifying story with characters that are right out of the headlines and a story that is believable and makes you wonder when and if this might really happen if Iran succeeds, Iraq too, Israel drops a bomb and the world is at war once more. Issues of distrust, hate, loyalties, family relationships, jealousies, discord and fear are just some of what is brought out in this outstanding novel.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ Magazine