Events sometimes change course and results although created and orchestrated do not always play out the way you wanted. Horrific prologue that reacts to a relief and actual event of the accidental takedown and shooting of a Ukrainian commercial airliner by an Iranian missile. What happens when a mother witnesses the horror firsthand learning that her daughter was a passenger on this plane and was killed. Returning to college in Canada her parents Zana and Nadia were given a brief time to grieve as Zana who has been working undercover for the CIA asks to come in and was done. Needing to have a safe passage for himself and his wife, but with a serious stipulation. The person who would be the handler to extract him had to be John Dale now living a quiet life as a painter. Ex-wife Meredith, working for Ed Rance head of CPT division, and her immediate boss. But from the start, you begin wondering about his motives and actions as the progress of the event and we get to know both sides.
The opposition team comprised of Russians, including Yuri Kuznetsov, an SVR officer out of Damascus. The cunning and conniving Maria Borbova also known as Genevieve an SVR Officer out of London. The events take an unusual turn when the demands time to light and Meredith Morris Dale the CIA case officer whose last mission went bust, has now been told to return to Langley thinking her days are numbered and is going to be fired but comes face to face with the deputy director. Even though we get the feeling that Rance has his other agenda, he claims to be acting on the orders of Deputy Director Dorsey who asked that John Dale be reactivated because the asset requested him. They have a unique relationship. Case officer Meredith will evaluate his fitness for duty putting her in a precarious position.
The asset is known as Cerberus and is a nuclear physicist who has been keeping the CIA aware and in the loop about Iran’s nuclear program. A bonus is the character of Kasem Kahlidi the Quds Lt. Colonel. He had been imprisoned with John and together escaped the ISIS captors because of Dale’s ingenuity and other Quds coming to help plus guard officers. John had gained insight into Cerberus who asked John to create a plan for his family to escape in case the Iranians ever closed in on him. Will they realize that this man has been placed as a mole in Iran’s uranium enrichment program knowing his role, dangerous and deadly was prevent them from building the bomb by sabotaging the performance of their covert centrifuge arrays.
Things heat up when contact is made between Meredith and John and the conversations are confrontational each side wanting control of the other and yet neither can get a permanent handle on the other. The sarcasm and banter let you know somehow they still care about each other.
The moles are many but for some reason, Yuri is singled out even though he’s on the side of Iran. The nuclear bomb is what Zana, and the Russians are creating and Javed his superior wants it done in time.
Meredith gets blindsided , she’s blown, and John explains that the Russians are involved and heavily in the Iranian nuke programs via the reactor in Bushehr meaning yellowcake going right past sanctions.
The author lets us get to know Yuri and those under him, but the main thrust is whether the asset has surfaced and where is John.
Yuri is at Starbucks and recalls what happened when interrogated and the drugs that they used to see if he was telling the truth. Pitot gave him the code that their surveillance came up empty and at this point we understand his problem and he wanted any sign of Kasem the Quds Force operator he tipped about the Iranian leak. He needed to see any major reaction from the Iranians that would establish a link to the CIA. But events change, misconceptions and Yuri is given a driver but a fake one and the reader learns just how dangerous Maria Borbova is and the end for Yuri but why?
As Meredith tries to connect with John, he’s having trouble just finding safe places to hide. Going to his own house he’s attacked, and his cover blown, hoping to get to the asset before anything else happens turns deadly at times, he must enlist his survival skills and you wonder if Meredith can handle the pressure as she often must decompress and find a way to analyze the situation. Just when she’s out of ideas she takes stock of those involved and John does tell her who is dirty and the mole hoping she’ll be careful conveying information.
Although we finally get to understand and meet Zana and his boss , Javed, he refuses to give Zana his exit stamp to travel and insists he gets back to work explaining why Zana was sabotaging the entire operation. The author explains that Javed believed a nuclear weapon would bring about the Mahdi , the Twelfth Iman hiding the Occultation since the year 872. The rest of pages 142-143 explains his rationale even more. But Zana went over Javed’s head for the travel stamps so why did the commander want to see him immediately?
The author flashes to John and the fact that the blonde on the video is Maria who they realize is not what she appears to be. Dance is gotten contact and does not even think that she is drugging him for information.
Lies, deceptions and powerful people on both sides but both John and Meredith are marked and in the site of Maria and her team and Rance is about to get blindsided one more time.
When Zana and his boss are told to return to by plane what happens next is shocking and the result will cause Ana to think fast and hopefully escape the guardsmen before the realize what he did. Kasem realizes that Colonel Maloof, Sana and Javad were on the Bushehr delegation and headed back to Tabriz but why didn’t they return> Kasem is smart and realizes that there is much more at stake. Reminded Zana’s daughter was killed on the Ukrainian airliner.
Locations are vital and John was to head for Tabriz, but he was silent, but the IRGC hornet’s nest had been kicked and things were not good. There was not name, just a number that began with the Iranian country code like the one Zana’s wife gave her. John takes up the cause and there are hunters on all three sides and the novel takes John all over from his cabin in Washington, to the order of Canada, London, Damascus, Langley, Iraq, Turkey, Kurdistan and Iran each site more dangerous than the one before until the final scenes and the end result of what finally happens to John, Cerberus but not before Meredith faces off with a dangerous killer but will she be found?
The ending is a shocker and the tension is high as John and Zana face their own demons, Kasem realizes where he might belong and the ending lets you know that this is far from over.
Did they rescue Zana and what about his wife? What about the nuclear bomb threat did the Russians succeed? AN ending that lets you know there is more to come as Meredith and John must deal with much more before all is said and done.
Fran Lewis just reviews