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 traditional 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 MIA 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" 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 an unscrupulous antiquities broker, Sonya organizes
an expedition into the remote Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan to
find the source of her manuscript. Accompanied by Danny—who
still carries a torch for her—and Eddy Thompson, a former black ops
contractor with a dubious agenda, the action and smoldering romance heat up. Their expedition into the Hindu Kush is tracked by CIA drones, Russian Special Forces and a rogue FSB assassin with ties to Chechen separatists, as Sonya races to solve the mystery of her father’s disappearance and the whereabouts of his deadly cargo before Wild Boar—or someone worse—can get their hands on it.

It was the bird woman in Khan Yunis that finally asphyxiated any moral ambivalence Sonya retained from her mother’s liberal politics. She had 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 them, fed them and spoke softly to them, from what Sonya could see perched above the city streets. Yes, she was HAMAS, one of Yassin’s people 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. 

        That 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. Their remains had to be scraped off the wall by a ZAKA team and carried away in plastic bags after the
semtex-packed cage blew a three-meter crater into the street as Sonya watched helplessly through her scope. In a moment of impotent rage and remorse, Sonya had cried for the 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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© 2018 by Tom Joyce