When British and American intelligence agencies catch wind of a major Al Qaeda operation in the wings, they are primed for action.
They have the resources, the best people on the force, the mightiest electronic power known to mankind and the gumption to pull it off.
They just don’t know what exactly awaits them.
They don’t know what the operation is about, where the strike might occur, what kind of explosives might be used or perhaps something deadlier….
What they need is an insider. One of their own inside the super secret circle of the Al Qaeda upper echelons.
The top brass zeroes in on Izmat Khan, a five year prisoner of Guantanamo Bay and a former commander of the dreaded Taliban.
To switch places, the brass decides on Colonel Mike Martin, a war veteran.
A man born and brought up in war torn Iraq. Most importantly, Mike is someone who can pull off the impossible- pass off as an Arab among Arabs. The brass is counting on his dark, lean looks, command over the dialect and extensive knowledge of the mountains.
They put him through intensive prayer lessons, physical and mental preparations and build a nice cover story for how Izmat Khan will escape Guantanamo Bay.
The switch is complete and their man is now on the other side of the wall, ready to uncover Al Qaeda’s plan.
Forsyth’s deceptively languid pace lulls you into a false sense of momentary security, for he yanks the rug from under your feet the very next second.
His characters are rooted, well established and almost life-like. Terse bits of humor can be found sprinkled throughout, laced with wry undertones.
The twist in the tale is so subtle it takes some moments for you to grasp its significance. The Afghan is yet another solid piece of research blended with smooth flowing prose- a master stroke by Forsyth.