Joe Costa is racing against time. As an agent attached to Homeland Security he has travelled to Jordan, Israel and Italy to track down a report of a weapon of mass destruction set to explode at the G20 summit in Rome. Joe’s reports have been routed to the top of the intelligence community but the in-fighting and beaurocracy are as much an obstacle as the terrorists themselves. Working closely with his Italian counterparts, he tries to prevent a catastrophe that will affect the lives of thousands of Roman citizens as well as his own family.
DEMONS OF GADARA is a well-written account of the international anti-terrorist effort by the United States and its allies. Characters are believable and their dialog is pitch perfect. The intricacies of a complex plot and characterization are woven seamlessly into a fast-paced thriller. What is also exceptional is what the story does not have. The protagonist is not a member of the FBI or CIA but a mid-level agent from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) who tracks the movements of the terror weapon with analytic software rather than high-powered weapons and James Bond gadgetry. Acronyms, especially within the law enforcement community, are kept to a minimum and, where they are present, they are explained. Most intriguing is the hawla system, a means to finance overseas trade in the Middle East that uses no banks or other financial institutions. Originally, an innocuous means for merchants to trade goods without the onerousness of currency changes, the transparency of the system lends its “under the table” nature to money laundering and financial support of terrorist cells overseas. Hawla transactions are the means to tracking and uncovering the terrorists and it is Joe’s understanding of hawla that allows him to see the true nature of the threat.
DEMONS OF GADARA is a briskly paced story of the little known operations of overseas customs enforcement. This is not a black and white world where gunfire and testosterone triumph. It is the story of cooperation between groups in a complicated situation where neither side is totally right or wrong.
Reviewed by Ed Bennett for IndieReader.