The Missing Peace has a cinematic quality to both the prose and the way the story moves between different characters and countries that I found wildly engaging. The setting was described with an aerial quality and an eye for detail emphasizing its sweeping scope.

— Masie Cochran, senior editor at Tin House 

 

“A great story, powerful characters and a plot that rings devastatingly true.”

 

— Frank Viviano, National Geographic journalist, former war correspondent

    for The San Francisco Chronicle and author of Blood Washes Blood 

 

Red Sparrow meets The Kite Runner. Beautiful, so well-written and a compelling story.”

     

Holly Lynn Payne, author of The Virgin’s Knot, The Sound of Blue

    and Damacena 

 

The Missing Peace blurs all the boundaries between fiction and fact, intrigue and romance, adventure and literature. Inspired by extensive travels in the Middle East and Central Asia, and a long-time love affair with the classic Cold War spy novels of John Le Carré and Len Deighton, this upmarket thriller draws heavily on factual events and technical details, all footnoted for easy reference.  

 

Sonya Aronovsky enlists a Jesuit Harvard professor, Father Daniel Callan, to help her translate and locate the source of a mysterious manuscript she has found in her late mother’s possessions, believing it holds the key to where her father, a Soviet-era helicopter pilot, went missing in action twenty years ago.

 

But Sonya is not who Danny thinks she is. In fact, his brilliant student—and former lover—is a deep-cover Mossad operative running a dangerous sting to bring down “Wild Boar,” a sadistic Ukrainian arms dealer who brokers missiles to conflict zones and traffics girls for his sex club in Istanbul. Sonya’s irresistible bait is a dozen “suitcase nukes," tactical nuclear weapons her father was secretly transporting out of Afghanistan for the KGB in 1989 when his gunship disappeared in the Hindu Kush mountains.

 

Financed by Cyrus Narsai, an unscrupulous antiquities broker, guided by Eddy Thompson, a former black ops contractor with a dubious agenda, and accompanied by Danny, who still carries a torch for her, Sonya embarks on an expedition into the remote Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan to find the origin of her priceless manuscript. The smoldering romance and action ignite as they are tracked by Wild Boar, Russian mercenaries and CIA drones. The dangerous trail leads to a fantastic archaeological find in the Hindu Kush where Sonya must sift through an arcane history for clues to solve the mystery of her father’s disappearance, and attempt to locate his deadly cargo before it triggers another holocaust.

It was the bird woman in Khan Yunis that finally asphyxiated any moral ambivalence Sonya retained from her mother’s liberal politics. She felt not the slightest remorse when an Apache helicopter rammed Hellfire missiles down the throat of some monster who had sent a child shahid [witness] across the Green Line strapped into a vest sewn with ball-bearing-packed pipe bombs. But this woman with the birds seemed different, the loving way she handled, fed and spoke softly to them, from what Sonya could see perched above the city streets. Yes, she was one of Yassin’s soldiers, dedicated to the obliteration of Sonya’s adopted country, but there was something about the bird woman—something unexpectedly human—that made Sonya hesitate to follow her “intercept” instinct. 

       Her hesitation had cost two callow IDF soldiers their lives when they stopped to admire the woman’s birdcage and failed to notice her moving for cover. After her Semtex-packed cage cratered the street, the soldier’s scattered remains had to be scraped off the walls and cobblestones by a ZAKA team, then carried away in plastic bags for a reverent burial while Sonya watched helplessly through her scope. In a moment of impotent remorse, she had cried for those birds. 

       Never again would she make a mistake like that, finally certain that the only way to prevail against ideological fanatics was to become
more ruthless than they were.

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© 2020 by Tom Joyce