The Last Refuge
by Ben Coes
A 2012 hard cover release from St.
Martin’s Press, 387 pgs.
Also available in e-formats
Author Ben Coes knows how to structure a taut, clever, tension-filled thriller. The genesis of this story begins with the audacious kidnapping of the grandson of Israel’s fourth Prime Minister, Golda Meir, one of the enduring heroes of that nation. Kohl Meir’s abduction from an apartment in New York is an Iranian act of retribution for an incident in the Gulf of Hormuz. Meir is a decorated commander of a unit of Israeli Special Forces. His capture is considered a great triumph by the rulers of Iran who intend to use Meir’s trial and execution to maximum political advantage. Enter Dewey Andreas, American, a former SEAL, with ties to Meir. He wants to rescue Kohl Meir, in part because Meir did the same for him on a previous mission. What he subsequently learns is that Meir was in the United States to solicit help from Andreas in a daring plan to prevent Iran from destroying Tel Aviv with a nuclear weapon.
So a double clock is ticking. The nuclear bomb is soon due to be transported to Israel and Meir’s execution is imminent. Andreas enlists the help of various above- and below-board specialists in his attempt to successfully carry out theft of the bomb and rescue of the Israeli.
How he goes about this and the maneuvering of the evil forces arrayed against Andreas is the story. There is, fortunately, a minimum of political- us-versus-them ranting. There are complex people working for perceived good and evil on both sides of the equation. Some are competent and some are not, so the characterizations in the novel are interesting and support the plot well, although it’s perfectly clear that the author considers Iran to be a prominent evil empire.
There are, unfortunately, quite a few grammatical errors which readers will have to overlook. One of the most egregious is the careless use of “ground” as a substitute for the floor of an automobile, a steel jail cell, and the deck of a ship. In the case of the automobile, the reader thought the gunman was on the ground beside the car, not hiding in the front seat. In spite of these annoyances, the novel is enjoyable, a fast read with an eye-opening resolution and a plot that has every element of the real and the here and the possible.