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Sovereign Order

Sovereign Order, January 2015
by James Macomber

Self Published
Featuring: John Cann; Katherine Price
328 pages
ISBN: 0970953836
EAN: 9780970953834
Kindle: B007Z3SG6A
e-Book
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"A plot to bomb the Monaco Grand Prix"

Fresh Fiction Review

Sovereign Order
James Macomber

Reviewed by Clare O'Beara
Posted February 27, 2015

Thriller Political | Thriller

Chilling violence on the border between Switzerland and Italy sets the scene for a terrorist plot to bomb the Monte Carlo Grand Prix, the glitzy Formula One motor race. SOVEREIGN ORDER posits that a growing surge of extremism emerges among peaceful Arab immigrants to Northern Italy. Sponsored by other countries which send willing brainwashed martyrs, the plot is aimed at the rich people attending the spectacular race.

Katherine Price is a no-nonsense woman with a security background, apparently a tourist like many other Americans in the Principality of Monaco. Her fiancé John Cann has a similar background. They meet a friend of John's, Sir Robert Foster from Britain, who offers to include them in his party at Prince Rainier's ball that evening. By contrast the terrorist leader Rashid al-Nassef has been occupied making bombs with plastic explosive and instructing the first man he wants to wear one as a vest.

I'll just say that matters go from bad to worse, and all the distraction of fast cars can't detract from the body count and shock. If you're interested in reading about the design of Formula One cars, and why they do not take off when travelling at great speed, this book brings you such details, as well as a potted history of motor racing in Scotland. In place of some action, and to flesh out the terrorist figure, the American characters recount atrocities he participated in during past years. Then al- Nassef recalls some more of his inglorious history. I would have liked a real attempt to understand ordinary people in the Monte Carlo situation, but all we see is extreme persons on both sides of the picture.

If you are into ominous thrillers in prominent locations, this one will interest you, and anyone who likes an added dimension to stories of motor racing could try James Macomber's SOVEREIGN ORDER. Despite the strong central lady, I didn't find this really a work for women, but mechanics and thriller fans might get a kick out of the tale.

Learn more about Sovereign Order

SUMMARY

Terrorists from all over the world. Sarin gas from Syrian stockpiles. Innocents gathered for a revered sporting event, all unaware of the horrific attack about to be launched.

“Sovereign Order”, is an international thriller about an Iranian-sponosred WMD attack on Monaco and the 100,000 plus people in attendance at the Monaco Grand Prix.

The sublimely evil villain is Rashid al-Nassef, long thought dead but actually living under Iranian protection, After several years of chafing in his “velvet prison” he receives the go-ahead to launch what will be the most destructive and horrific terrorist attack in history.

The assault is multi-leveled in both its substance and in its actors. The “martyrs” who will execute the plan come from many places; a Bosnian youth designated by al-Nassef to set off the first in a series of assaults, the young Belgian woman whose fanaticism as a Christian leads her to seek the love of Mohammed, the tyrannical and abusive Albanian Muslim and his wife and child who will effect the diversionary explosion on the day of the race, the Scots lawyer seduced into Islam as a youth, and finally, al-Nassef himself who will unleash the final act of horror that will leave the Principality of Monaco unlivable for decades to come.

The novel features John Cann and Katherine Price, senior partners in a Washington DC law firm with strong ties to the intelligence community — as do John and Katherine in their own pasts: John in the military sphere, Katherine in civilian counter-terror. John is in all the books and Katherine Price was introduced in the third Macomber novel, “A Grave Breach” where she ended up being the hero of both dual plots in that book. As intended but also by popular demand, she and John have finally “gotten together” and in “Sovereign Order”, they travel to the Monaco Grand Prix as an engagement present from a principal of one of the teams and find themselves at risk of losing everything when they face off against the horrific combined-WMD attack on the “crown jewel of world formula racing”.

Excerpt

Wednesday Morning

Via Cottolengo

Torino

The young Bosnian was named Mirko Zubak. He had had not been told what the target was to be but he did know his act of martyrdom would be by “sacred explosion”. He’d done what preparation he could before leaving Bosnia such as paying off his debts and forgiving others their transgressions against him. But the suddenness of his call was disconcerting. He’d expected, as was the norm, to have days, perhaps more, prior to his act to prepare himself. He’d put aside his cigarettes only the night before and had declined to eat anything then and this morning to purify himself as best he could under this accelerated plan. But the Imam had assured him that the circumstances would be known to Allah and his sacrifice accepted.

Zubak was determined to quietly and stoically accept the orders of his leader, Rashid al-Nassef, and the guidance of the Imam. But even in the face of al-Nassef’s undisguised annoyance, the young Bosnian stubbornly insisted that he be allowed to make his videotape testament. The camera was set up and Zubak recited verses from the Koran, spoke of the voluntary nature of his act, extolled the virtues and necessity of jihad and exhorted others to follow his example. When he was finished, he went to be fitted with the instrument of his “sacred explosion”.

Given the asymmetric nature of terrorism, most “suicide vests” are simple devices made from readily available materials. A common explosive combination is hydrogen peroxide, often used as a disinfectant or to bleach hair, for example, and acetone, used in various products, nail polish, for one. Together they form an explosive compound called acetone peroxide. While its availability and economy are a positive, it is an unstable compound which can and often does explode while being compressed or plasticized.

Less unstable and also widely used is a compound called ammonal — ammonia nitrate and coal or aluminum powder. It will not detonate of its own accord and needs an initiator (often a small quantity of acetone peroxide) but it too fits the needs and limitations of terrorist cells lacking the resources to obtain stronger, more sophisticated explosives.

For this project, though, al-Nassef had virtually unlimited resources and so the vest prepared for Mirko Zubak contained the much less readily available but far more sophisticated C4, a relatively stable plastic explosive with the consistency of modeling clay which allows it to be shaped as desired. In this case, it was packed in rectangular shaped pockets inside a thin nylon vest. Five kilograms of it. Approximately 11 pounds. A large load.

C4 also requires an initiator and in that respect as well al-Nassef went top shelf using a Belarus-made IED — not the “improvised explosive device” referred to so often in the present day but rather an “instantaneous electrical detonator” that initiates the C4 within milliseconds of being activated. When that happens, the C4 decomposes into gasses which expand at over 25,000 feet per second and reach temperatures in excess of 1,000 degrees. Normal atmospheric pressure on the human body is approximately 15 pounds per square inch. The force of this blast in the immediate vicinity would be 1.5 tons per square inch.

Just after 10:00 AM, al-Nassef led Zubak to the target along a slightly different route than the one he had taken the day before. As they came out of the Quattro Marzo opposite the Piazza San Giovanni and the cathedral, Zubak hesitated at the sight of two yellow school buses parked along the Via XX Settembre just in front of the church. The buses were empty. That meant the children were inside.

Al-Nassef had explained the plan to Zubak only minutes before they left Cottolengo. Zubak was to go up the stairs and into the cathedral and go left to where there was a souvenir shop by the replica of the Holy Shroud. There were frequently visitors standing and watching it but the primary rational al-Nassef had given the young Bosnian for this particular target was that it struck a blow at what was essentially the soul of Torino. Zubak had questioned the propriety of an attack on Jesus whom Islam revered as a prophet if not as the Messiah. But al-Nassef had rejected the concern by recalling to him the Hadith prohibition on depictions of the major prophets and explaining that they were not striking the actual Jesus, only an image — one which was a replica in any event.

Looking across the piazza, Zubak shook his head. “Not the children. I will not meet Allah with that shame on me.”

Al-Nassef wondered if these objections were a sign that the boy was losing his nerve. He started to order the young man to proceed but thought better of it. He did not need to bring any attention to them and a few more moments would not matter. He nodded his assent.

After about ten minutes, the center doors at the top of the stairs opened and a procession of about eighty children accompanied by teachers and aides emerged. The adults herded the children together and began to count and arrange them prior to reboarding the buses.

Al-Nassef put his hand on Zubak’s shoulder and the young man looked at him. Al-Nassef nodded. The Bosnian returned the gesture, then put his hand into the pocket that contained the detonator and stepped off. Al-Nassef retreated a little way back up the Quattro Marzo and around a corner of the municipal building and watched as Zubak crossed the piazza to the church.

The teachers had the children fairly well assembled, crowded together in pairs, holding hands, about to get on the buses. The squeaks and squeals of their young voices drowned out the other sounds in the area.

Zubak was still about ten meters from the bottom of the steps to the cathedral and right alongside the children when al-Nassef pressed the duplicate detonator he had in his own pocket."


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