It is some time after the 9/11 attack on the twin towers in New York. The attack on the Kohl is still being investigated. In Yemen, there is a cold-blooded attack on a group of Belgian tourists. Each has had their throats cut, simply because they were from the West. It is an act of revenge by The Panther, an American terrorist who is carrying out Jihad. Because he is American, his capture and/or murder is a dicey proposition.
Enter John Corey, anti-terrorist, and his much younger wife, FBI agent, Kate Mayfield. They are both assigned to be bait in the terrorist’s capture (although this, and other facts, are never fully revealed to them, but are gradually deduced as a pattern of deception develops), and are asked to go to Yemen for America. They view it, alternately, as a noble cause and as a career move. Kate is woefully naïve about the danger to come and John is woefully flippant about it. Both carry these traits with them overseas.
The banter between John Corey and each of the characters is really funny. After awhile, however, it does get tedious. If the book was a bit shorter, it would have eliminated that shortcoming. Actually, it was the humor that made the book easy to listen to on a long ride up north to the New York area, from Florida.
The explanation of the Islamic customs and the details about Yemeni life, culture and history were very interesting. The fact that the terrorist they are trying to capture is American makes the task harder. His parents are using American laws to try and protect him from being taken down. They prefer his capture to his death. He prefers his death to capture. He wants to be a martyr, a wish John would be happy to grant. His ultimate goal is to drive Americans out of Yemen, overthrow the current government that let them in, and then ascend to the mythical throne! His goal is to be the head of the new government he will form, which will follow Sharia law. The Yemeni Government and military are corrupt. They are all working hand in hand to betray each other, so no one can be trusted. Money talks, nothing else. Betrayals are widespread in Yemen and in America. Nothing is sacred. Collateral damage is accepted as a necessity and human life is expendable for the sake of success. Sarcasm reigns on every page and John stays in character at all times. That, I believe, is the author’s monumental accomplishment.