John M. Murray
False Flag pits nations against each other with two headstrong women front and center.
John Altman’s False Flag examines the costs of extremism, pitting two strong women against each other in a complex plot to wage global war.
Chameleonesque femme fatale Mossad agent Jana infiltrates a neo-Nazi group in Washington. It has a large cache of weapons, explosives, and sarin gas. Under orders from a small cadre of Israeli fanatics, Jana goes rogue and disappears with the weapons in tow.
Jana’s superiors put into motion a plan involving the stolen cache and a PTSD-suffering American veteran, hoping to stir America into blindly attacking Israel’s enemies and allowing Israel the freedom to operate on the global stage unimpeded. Professor Dalia Artzi is recruited to stop Jana before the fanatics’ plot unfolds.
While nearly all the characters are fully realized, the dynamics between Jana and Dalia serve as the crux of the story. Both are women who suffered because of the instability in the Middle East. While Jana believes she can turn the instability around in her favor, Dalia’s life is dedicated to studying war in the hopes of preventing it. Both women are well fleshed out, with their motivations, no matter how shocking, always remaining clear.
Narrator Edoardo Ballerini’s languid reading complements the tension and suspense of the story. Onomatopoeia is employed to great effect, and Ballerini layers the sounds of footfalls and distant noises well. Even in the most violent scenes, his voice flows carefully forward while allowing Altman’s writing to shine through. Characters with accents sound believable, and despite a rather large cast, each has a distinct enough voice.
False Flag pits nations against each other with two headstrong women front and center. Altman’s captivating thriller masterfully examines morality in a time of upheaval, joining the ranks of Vince Flynn and David Baldacci with his engrossing and contemplative spy thriller.
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