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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.