Jonas works as an analyst for the British secret service with no background as an agent in the field. He is confronted with the taking prisoner of his father by ISIS gunmen in Syria and with no apparent interest by his agency in freeing the man decides to take matters into his own hands. Realizing that the most interesting thing he can bring into any negotiation with ISIS is documents with intelligence gained by his agency. Accordingly, he proceeds to steal some of what he feels might be the most interesting pieces of information from his agency’s files.
Jonas’s next step is to travel to Beirut and there contract a Swiss priest: Father Tobias. The father takes the job even with an episode of being captured in the past by ISIS and barely escaping from them. He agrees to again travel into territory controlled by the Islamic state and inform them Jonas is willing and able to bargain for his father’s life.
At this point the British and also the American governments realize that they have a traitor on their hands looking to leak information and have to start their own action to halt Jonas. The ingredients presented give rise to a novel repleat with action and suspension. The question of getting both his father and Tobias out alive becomes of paramount importance to him.
Wolff (not his real name) is indicated as having a long background with the British government and is more than qualified to set up the events and places where the action occurs. He has also done an interesting job in creating a distinct personality for Jonas; a quiet man definitely not the literary hero type and content to work behind the scenes suddenly forced to become a man of action in a kill or be killed world.
The author already has another book in the works reported to be ready for publication sometime in 2019. It is sure to be a novel well worth obtaining to undoubtedly devour in one long sitting.
5/18 Paul Lane
BESIDE THE SYRIAN SEA by James Wolff. Bitter Lemon Press (May 15, 2018). ISBN: 978-1908524980. 320p.