Book Spotlight: Al-thar by Sean Dow

Al-TharTitle: Al-thar
Author: Sean Dow
Publisher: Two Harbors Press
Pages: 466
Genre: Thriller

In Al-thar, (Arabic:revenge) Brent is living a tranquil life on the peaceful Philippine island of Masbate. But the FBI’s witness protection plan is not enough when you have destroyed the plans of the world’s most feared terrorist group-an assassin is on the way, and his plans are far worse than a simple bullet in the head.

With the violent destruction of his new island home, Dr. Holcomb is once again thrust into danger, this time on an international level. There are only two outcomes in this new high-stakes match, Brent’s painful and public death and the destruction of America’s, or the death of Saadullah Abul Ka-beir, and his council.

Brent brings together his cast of memorable friends from A Leafy Green World as he devises the greatest deception ever imagined. The action goes at a break-neck pace from the Philippines to Washington, D.C., and from a remote valley in Pakistan to the jungles of Sierra Leone in this novel that has been described as almost too real, and too timely.

 

For More Information

  • Al-thar is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Book Excerpt:

Washington, DC

 

“What the hell?” thought Tony Rossi.

Rossi, newly advanced to assistant director the FBI was coming home from yet another late night at the Hoover Building when the stoplight in front of him changed. There had been no hint of yellow, just a straight shot from green to red.

Tony had been absorbed, thinking about the conversation he had just finished with his liaison at the CIA. They had been picking up more chatter than usual. Whether it would be stateside or on foreign soil was anyone’s guess, but it looked like something was on the horizon, something big. Tony’s thoughts had also been drifting to Anne-Marie. For the second time this week, he had been forced to call off a planned evening—he wondered how much longer she would put up with this.

With the sudden light change, the limo in front had slammed to a halt, its nose just into the intersection. With his mind elsewhere, and the anticipation of the light staying green, Tony rammed into its back with barely a moment on the brakes. He was shocked by the force of the airbag, but was grateful just the same. Shaking off the daze, he looked through his windshield at the car in front of him.

Son-of-a-fucking-bitch! he thought, slamming his hand on the wheel. Who in the hell did I just run into? He had noticed earlier that the car had government plates, and he knew they didn’t give limos to run-of-the-mill, first-term senators or other no-name low-level officials, only to those who had risen through the ranks—this was going to be a very long evening.

 

Tony had no idea, when he took the assistant director position Mike Townsend had left at the FBI, that his world would be so disrupted. He enjoyed the responsibility but he might have passed had he known how much effect it would have on the rest of his life. He couldn’t even find the time to do his own laundry these days, having to hire out even such a simple, basic chore, and his personal relationships had come to a near complete halt.

On a social level, Mike had had it easy when he had the job. Having lost his wife to breast cancer years earlier, and with no intent to fill that empty spot in his life, he had no distractions. That had lasted until he had nearly poisoned Ginger Roberts, the senator in charge of the judiciary committee. In an effort to calm her one stormy winter morning, Mike had given her a near coma-inducing dose of an expensive single-barrel whiskey. The bottle had been given to Mike as a bribe. In an unusual twist of fate, an act that could have ended his career had instead started a relationship that was likely to lead to a proposal of marriage. The thought made Tony smile—maybe there was still hope for him to find someone, as well.

An indignant driver got out of the limousine, looking as if he was ready for a fight.

Shit! Tony thought, shaking his head. Just what I don’t need.

He had hoped to call Anne-Marie, apologize, and see if she could be talked into a late date, or at least a chocolate malt at Tiny’s. Now he’d be lucky if he got to his apartment in time to microwave a frozen gourmet treat from his well-stocked freezer before collapsing into bed, alone.

He rolled his window down, readying himself for the tongue lashing he was about to receive, when, in a freeze-frame moment, the driver’s head exploded—one moment angry, but normal, and the next, an eruption of gore. His tuxedo clad body hung briefly, like a prop from a Hollywood horror movie, before collapsing to the ground with the sound of his last breath escaping from the ruin.

Tony was instantly back to his military training. He dove across the front seat of his Bronco and rolled out the passenger door onto the pavement, positioning himself behind the front wheel after a quick assessment to make sure that his back was clear. Satisfied, he jumped up, ready to rush to the aid of the VIP in the limousine.

His car was rocked by bullets the moment he stood. His windshield starred, then exploded as more bullets whizzed past his head. Still more tore through the door panel, whining like angry wasps as they went past. They’re shooting at me, he realized, not the man in the limo!

A sedan accelerated through the intersection. It turned and aimed straight at him. Tony leaped just before it arrived, cartwheeling over the hood of his Bronco and landing heavily on his hip and shoulder. The sedan crashed right where he had crouched moments earlier, the impact causing the SUV to rise up on two tires before pausing a moment and settling back down with a protesting noise. He was safe from the sedan, but now directly in the original line of fire.

Bullets sparked off the pavement around his feet. Others punched into his Ford, some missing him by inches. Tony couldn’t see the shooters, but knew he’d be dead if he didn’t do something, and right away. With assailants on both sides there were no good choices but staying in this exposed position was definitely the worst of his options. He raced around the back of his truck, gun up, to confront the attackers in the car.

The driver was out of commission, slumped over the steering wheel, but the rear doors were already opening: two, no, three assailants.

Tony had a brief moment where he had the advantage as they were scrambling to get out. He emptied his magazine, squeezing the trigger until the firing pin landed on an empty chamber. It was not the fire discipline they had trained into him, but all three attackers were down.

In a move he had practiced so many times that it was fixed into muscle memory, he ejected the spent magazine and rammed home a fresh one. It was his last. He hadn’t expected a firefight in downtown DC, and he hadn’t come prepared for one.

He turned to face the others—it was one pistol against an unknown number of assailants. From the way the bullets punched through his car, Tony knew they must be armed with rifles—he would have only one chance, to flee. The Bronco was out of commission, leaving the limo as his only hope. If the keys were still in the ignition he might make it. If not, he’d take out as many as he could and then join his father on the wall of honor at the bureau.

The passenger-side door was locked, exactly as Tony had suspected, but he had to check. He raced around the front, firing blindly as he went, and dove through the driver’s door, slamming it shut as his right hand searched for the ignition. The keys were there, still in their slot, and the limousine started immediately. He reached for the selector but a strong arm wrapped around his neck just before he could drop the car into gear. His passenger must have mistaken him for one of the assailants!

Through his dimming vision, Tony could see the real attackers coming. He punched backward as hard as he could, repeatedly hitting the side of the passenger’s head, but each blow he landed was weaker than the one before, showing no effect. In a last-ditch effort, he seized a finger, bending it backward until it snapped. His passenger howled in pain, loosening his grip enough for Tony to get a breath.

“Let go, dammit! Let go or we’re both dead.”

Panicked like a drowning swimmer, the passenger immediately tried to re-establish his death grip but Tony was ready for him this time. He got his left arm up next to his throat, blocking the choke and giving him time to mount a better defense. He was about to turn to face the backseat when one of the attackers arrived at the window. He was armed with an AK-type weapon and was bringing it to bear, a triumphant smile on his face.

There was no time for Tony to reach his own weapon, and no time to free himself enough to drive away from the threat. This was how his life would end, on a grimy, oil-slicked street in the suburbs of Washington, DC, with Styrofoam cups and fast-food wrappers blowing around his corpse. A phalanx of sightseers would arrive, attracted by the gunfire and hoping to get a glimpse before the police had the area walled off. It wasn’t the way he’d planned to go, but then most people don’t get to choose, do they? The truly sad part was that he was just beginning to salvage his life from the ruins it had become after his divorce—the hope and promise that had appeared on the horizon were now to be snatched away.

He looked up to face his attacker—at least he would see who was about to kill him.

Two shots rang out, so close together that they sounded more like one. The attacker stopped, a puzzled look on his face. He fell against the door and then slowly slipped down to the ground, leaving a blood trail along the glass. A man in a business suit stepped up. He was on the passenger side of the limousine, and he had a large caliber revolver, which he held in a practiced way.

“Get the hell out of here,” the man shouted, firing two more shots toward a group of attackers. “There’s more coming!”

There was no way Tony was going to leave his rescuer alone against obviously superior odds. In a fit of strength, he broke away from his backseat passenger and stepped into the fray.

The attackers had not expected an armed response. This was supposed to be a simple hit against an unsuspecting weak American, and in Washington, DC, where no one was supposed to have a firearm. The armed reaction took them by surprise. In their moment of confusion, Tony and his new best friend centered three more with deadly fire, and sent the others running.

Unsure if all the shooters had left, Tony and his Good Samaritan crouched behind the limo. Fortunately, there were no more shots, and the sound of sirens soon reached them, piercing through the night air—a mass shooting in the nation’s capital tended to bring out the troops.

“Thanks, man,” he said to the businessman. “You saved my life.”

“Right place, right time,” he deferred. “Always happy to help.”

He shook Tony’s hand, searching for threats as he did so. Seeing none, he holstered his revolver.

“I probably ought to get going, though,” he added as he stood up. “It’s best if I’m not here when the police arrive.”

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