A Cloud in the Desert

A Steven Frisk Novel

Fiction - Thriller - General
264 Pages
Reviewed on 06/10/2014
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Martin A. Lessem is a regulatory attorney by day and an author by night. Originally Swedish, he became a US citizen in his 30’s while still living in New Jersey. At some point, sanity gripped him and he moved to Massachusetts together with his cat, Nimitz. From there they have now moved to Illinois. In his copious free time, Martin runs The Royal Manticoran Navy, which is a Science Fiction an Association, and dances Amateur Ballroom together with his partner. He is a fan of the Philadelphia Flyers and Manchester United, although his own sports ability lends itself more toward golf and flying when time permits. Normally he flies an Archer if he can find one, but has sign offs for Complex and High Performance Aircraft as well.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Cheryl E. Rodriguez for Readers' Favorite

A Cloud in the Desert by Martin A. Lessem is a tale of conspiracy and espionage. A war between Pakistan and Afghanistan was brewing and only a handful of people knew what it was really about. The President of the US made it clear that America would be coming into the conflict on the side of Afghanistan. A CIA operative has been placed in deep cover, “his position was perilous, but reward worth it.” With all information compartmentalized, only three people knew the true objective. During the first skirmish, a nuclear device is used; casualties and radiation exposure were felt on both sides. Pakistan releases evidence pointing to the Americans. America claims no involvement. If not, Pakistan or the US, then who? Steven Frisk, a CIA Ops Officer, sets out to find out who set off the device. This war must end before it escalates out of control.

A Cloud in the Desert is full of military action, agency moles and spooks, treason and terrorism. Martin A. Lessem is noted to be a regulatory attorney by day and an author by night. Possibly, legal research and practice support his understanding of artillery, aircraft, military vehicles and the intricacies of defense corporations. He seems to have a fondness for history as well, as he included a few historical tidbits here and there. Flashback technique is used throughout the story. During the action, the author takes you into a cloud of thought or dream state of the character. During the flashback scenes, the characters reveal important times, locations and experiences of their past that are relevant to the present. The language of the book is simple, yet full of military vernacular including acronyms, government agency “talk” and terminology, clichés, slogans and idiomatic expressions. The intrigue steadily builds in this conspiracy theory and then is smoothly resolved over the last few pages.

Lorena Sanqui

Steven Frisk has been a case officer for many of the new recruits of the CIA. One of those operatives is Ali Hassan Aswhari. Steven thinks Ali is one good agent; what he doesn’t know is that they will soon be on opposing sides. Steven’s new assignment is to prevent a war from erupting between Afghanistan and Pakistan; Ali Hassan’s job on the side is to do everything he can to trigger it. A corporation is interested in a war between the two countries for the profit it will bring them. Who will come out victorious between the mentor and his former protégé in A Cloud in the Desert: A Steven Frisk Novel by Martin Lessem.

A Cloud in the Desert is an action packed, engaging and a fast paced novel. I got into it immediately after reading the prologue. Steven Frisk is an awesome character. He’s sly and a very good teacher. Even though Ali Hassan was the bad guy, I found his character interesting. Everything he does, he does with making his mother proud in mind. The story was told in alternating present time and flashbacks, which was nice because it gave a better insight to how the characters were trained and how they are as people. The scenes and settings were described thoroughly and it was like a trip around the world with all the places Steven went to. This is Martin Lessem’s first novel in the Steven Frisk series and this book is a very good start.

Faridah Nassozi

After being away from home for nearly a year, CIA Operative Steven Frisk finally returned home and was looking forward to some time with his family. But then the tension in the Middle East escalated to a whole new level and he had to go back into the field. His sole purpose was to ensure that the tension between Afghanistan and Pakistan did not escalate in a major way. However, there was a group of people who would do anything to foil Frisk's efforts. At the forefront of the escalating conflict is Ali Hassan Ashwari, a man that was trained by Frisk himself. Ali Hassan, thinking that he is acting on orders from the CIA, from a boss above Frisk, sets in motion a series of events that get the two enemy countries into a war, with each of them unaware of the true reasons behind the conflict. Eventually, Frisk starts to connect the dots and all suspicion points to a certain Major Yusouf.

A Cloud In The Desert by Martin A. Lessem is a fast-paced war story about the escalation of Middle East conflict and how a group of greedy individuals with a lot of power and resources, and friends in high places, took advantage of the tension in the region to lead two countries into war so they could fulfill their own interests. The story gives a very detailed account of the war between Pakistan and Afghanistan and the real reasons behind the escalation of the war. The story shows how the blind faith of a loyal CIA operative was manipulated by self-centered individuals. The novel bounces between now and then, giving you a background to the CIA field operations so you have a better understanding of the thoughts and actions of the different characters. It is a well-told war story about the Middle East conflict and fans of war and spy stories would enjoy reading it.