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    Review of AVENGER by Frederick Forsyth

    Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin's Press, September 2003

    Most days, Calvin Dexter is a lawyer with the odd hobby of running triathlons. But for the right price and the right cause, the fifty-something Viet Nam veteran becomes 'the avenger,' a man who will bring criminals from around the world back to the U.S. for justice. And the family of Ricky Colenso needs justice. Their darling son took off the summer before he started in college to serve as a humanitarian volunteer in Bosnia. The murderer, head of a Serb militia, has vanished, along with the billions of dollars he looted from the former Yugoslav economy. It's the Avenger's job to track the killer down and bring him to America where he can be tried for his crimes.

    Tracking down a billionaire killer would be a tough job for anyone, even a survivor of the tunnel warfare in Viet Nam. But the killer has more protection than the private army, the bribed government of the South-American country where he hides, and the sharks that surround his isolated compound. The CIA has identified him as a part of its war on terrorism and will do anything to protect him. If that means selling out the Avenger, the CIA agents consider it cheap at the price. Because their target is nothing less than Osama Ben Laden. And in the war on terrorism, even in the last days before 9/11, no sacrifice is too great if it advances the cause.

    Author Frederick Forsyth (see more reviews of novels by Forsyth) is a longtime master of the adventure suspense novel and AVENGER is a welcome addition to the canon. Calvin Dexter makes an interesting and sympathetic hero. With his own personal losses (his daughter was kidnapped and murdered in the white slave trade), Dexter is believable. His Viet Nam experience and the wealth of contacts he made while a lawyer for New York's poor and immigrant population both make him convincing despite his eligibility for membership in the American Association of Retired People. Forsyth is a master of presenting the reader with an ethical dilemma. In his masterpiece, THE DAY OF THE JACKAL (see the review), he engages our sympathies with an amoral killer. Here, Forsyth uses the events of 9/11 to make the CIA agent's position sympathetic even as we cheer Dexter on in his attempts to bring an evil man to justice.

    AVENGER is tightly written, with convincing characters and emotional depth. It's a winner.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 11/05/03

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