Note: This is a review of a unpublished manuscript, looking for a publisher. The final book may be different from that reviewed. I don't know Steve Clackson.
He had not wanted to launch this operation yet. His plan had been simple: keep pressure on the airline industry. The September 11th attacks had created widespread fear of flying, but more importantly, they had impacted the financial well-being of the enemy. Hassan saw the airline industry as the key. Osama had stated so, and the other leaders had agreed.
In a "24-esque" stomach-clench of a story, a lot of good people die. A handful of terrorists get the shaft. Set in a post-9-11 world, the tale of Sand Storm compels.
During the course of the novel, you get to know a lot of people well. Oddly, none more than the Middle Eastern terrorists who plot to attack America. And succeed.
The book's prologue sets the scene of the attack planning. Israeli Mossad agents die within the first few pages and the reader is away into Clackson's world; a thinly veiled shift into an unknown point in the future.
Part cautionary tale, part gory bloodfest, the story grips from beginning to end.
In the story, the Caliphs have spent years planning every detail of a large-scale attack on a coastal city. When they succeed in killing thousands of soldiers, they seem to get away with it. Clackson carries you through the last stages of planning from the terrorists' point of view as well as the state and federal investigators, who start looking into seemingly random crimes, before coming to the stark conclusion that they are all related.
The reader's curiosity should rise up quickly, as the terrorists develop their plan, to wonder just what the plans are gearing toward.
Hints get dropped along the way, but never enough to figure out it out before the author is ready. Crumbs of the parallel investigation drop along the way to keep the reader intrigued.
Like the war on terror itself, Sand Storm is a mystery on a global scale.
The death of innocents comes in a variety of ways for Ramone, Marcia, Jerome and others. All are given short character sketches before they are laid out and splayed out. The many deaths have a strong impact, but mostly what comes across is a writer's joy in being, in this case, morbidly creative.