War in Afghanistan

Hero's terror mission will keep you gripped

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 October, 2010, 12:00am

The Afghan
Frederick Forsyth
Published by Corgi Books
ISBN 9780552155045

M any action thriller writers use the central idea in their books of a protagonist, or main character, who fights for good against an antagonist, or opponent, who aims to stop him.

However, Frederick Forsyth's novel, The Afghan, gives this idea a little twist; his hero pretends to be a bad man - and watches as bad things happen - so that good can defeat evil in the end.

The hero is a retired, former US Special Forces soldier, Colonel Mike Martin, who has fought in war zones, including Bosnia, Sierra Leone and Northern Ireland.

After the West suspects that a terrorist attack is being planned by al-Qaeda, Martin is asked to take on what may be his most difficult mission; he must pretend to be Izmat Khan - a Taliban freedom fighter known by many people simply as 'The Afghan' - so he can help prevent the attack.

With Khan held prisoner by the West, Martin - a skilled linguist who has lived among the tribesmen in Afghanistan for many years - takes his place and attempts to fool the al-Qaeda terrorists into revealing their target.

Martin - playing the role of 'The Afghan' - pretends he has escaped from captivity and joins up with a group of terrorists.

He learns that plans for the attack against the West have already started, with a group of terrorists hijacking an oil tanker. This ship will then be used to carry out the attack. But what is the target - and when?

Acting on his own - while in increasing danger of being discovered - he must try to stop the terrorists. But things do not go according to plan.

Forsyth's latest thriller is his most gripping so far. Wondering whether Martin can succeed in his mission is the key that will keep the hearts of readers racing nervously - and them unable to put the book down until they have got to the very end.