Book Title: The Athens Job: A Companion Novella to Rules of Engagement (The WMD Files)
Author: David Bruns & J.R. Olson
Publication Date: October 14, 2019
Indie Athenaeum Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Rafiq Roshed is one of the world’s most notorious terrorists who almost succeeded in detonating a nuclear bomb on United States soil. On the run and out of allies, he’s got nowhere to go and a burning vengeance against those who have stolen everything from him. But an opportunity comes calling when someone from his past reaches out to him.
This potential ally offers him a unique job: assassinate the ally’s North Korean boss so he can ascend the ranks. Even with Roshed’s skill set, this will still be difficult. Roshed is in no position to refuse, as he needs a secure place to hide from the security agencies of the world intent on tracking him down.
Putting together an elaborate plan to accomplish this task, it sets events in motion that causes the United States National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) and Iranian Ministry of Intelligence to nip at his heels and run him to ground. But with conflicting objectives, who will get to him first and what will happen when they do?
The assassination is a tricky affair, which Roshed executes with his signature cleverness. It’s a bold plan that requires much finesse to escape undetected, which held me breathless with its escalating tension. From then onwards, it’s a non-stop thrill ride that moves quickly and throws one surprise after another at me, none of which I expected.
The relentless pacing here matches that of the other stories these authors have written and makes it difficult to put down at any point. There are multiple characters and a couple of different plotlines expertly intertwining together as Roshed tries to succeed in his objectives even while he tries to stay one step ahead of those who want justice for his past actions.
The action sequences are swift, brutal and merciless, as you can feel Roshed’s desperation in trying to escape from those who want to capture or kill him. And for a bad guy you don’t want to root for, Roshed’s meticulous planning of each of his tasks makes for enveloping reading. And his cunning and improvisational skills make him a difficult man to capture and an even more dangerous man to corner.
The political machinations of Roshed’s new ally as well as the inner workings of North Korea’s government under its Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un also play an unanticipated and important role in this novella. It provides strong motivation for Roshed and how he needs his plans to succeed in order to get what he wants from them.
All of these different plotlines culminate in a high-profile incident at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia that is ripped right from the headlines, but not in a way that you might think. I gasped at Roshed’s wily and complicated plan, how the conclusion played out and at the multiple goals it accomplished in one swift stroke.
It was also nice to see Don Riley at the NCTC and his banter with fan-favorite character Reza Sanjabi at the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence again. Their collaboration in previous novels was a highlight and it was good to see them work together here. Their work also highlights how difficult it can be for one fugitive to escape justice in a world filled with surveillance and the technology to successfully implement it.
Even if you’ve never read a story by these authors before, this novella stands alone and can be read as a complete work that tells a story from beginning to end. However, if you enjoyed “The Athens Job”, there are many more riveting stories written by them featuring these characters for you to enjoy.
They all take place in a series of stories called “The WMD Files”. The first novel in the series is “Weapons of Mass Deception”, the second is “Jihadi Apprentice” and the third is “Rules of Engagement”. There are also two short stories that fit into the timeline of the first two novels called “Death of a Pawn” and “Battle Djinni”.
This novella dovetails nicely with the latter part of “Jihadi Apprentice” when Roshed goes on the run after the events of that novel. It does a fantastic job explaining how he is given asylum in North Korea, especially with its chilling epilogue and sets the stage for his eventual return in the next novel in the series “Rules of Engagement”. If you would like to read the Indie Athenaeum review for that novel, you can go here to see it.
This is an excellent and gripping novella that has it all. Breathtaking suspense, careful plotting, startling twists, assassination attempts, jockeying for political power and globetrotting from one nation to another. Having read the stories in “The WMD Files” series, I can tell you that this novella is another perfect example of their exhilarating storytelling skills. It tells a tale that scares you with its accuracy and is completely relevant in today’s modern world.
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Previous Indie Athenaeum book reviews about stories written or co-written by David Bruns include “Beyond the Stars – Rocking Space: a space opera anthology“, “The Lazarus Protocol – The SynCorp Saga, Book 1“, “Cassandra’s War – The SynCorp Saga, Book 2“, “Valhalla Station – The SynCorp Saga: Empire Earth, Book 1“, “Masada’s Gate – The SynCorp Saga: Empire Earth, Book 2“, “Serpent’s Fury – The SynCorp Saga: Empire Earth, Book 3“, “World Domination: A Supervillain Anthology“, “Beyond the Stars – Unimagined Realms: a space opera anthology” and “Bridge Across the Stars – A Sci-Fi Bridge Original Anthology.”