Several years ago, I came into peripheral contact with a live electrical current. It was a very unique sensation, one that I have never forgotten and have not encountered since. That changed, though, after reading THE LAST REFUGE by Ben Coes. To borrow a line from “Got Nuffin’” by Spoon, this book will cause your blood to go rattling through your veins from the moment you start reading it.
"Ben Coes is a master storyteller with the seeming ability, demonstrated time and again, to predict the future. THE LAST REFUGE is a riveting and terrifying glimpse behind the veil that will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end, a thriller for this summer and for all seasons."
This is the third (and best to date) of the Dewey Andreas novels, and revolves around a situation so contemporary that it could take place hours or even minutes from right now. Andreas, a former SEAL and Delta Force team member, is ostensibly in retirement when he receives a request to meet Kohl Meir in Brooklyn. Meir is an Israeli Special Forces commander who, interestingly enough, is the grandson of Golda Meir. Of more significance, however, is that Meir previously led a team of Israeli commandos on a mission to rescue Andreas from certain death. The mission succeeded, but with significant casualties to the Israeli team. Andreas owes Meir and the people of Israel a debt of honor, which he is more than willing to repay in any way he can.
But before the meeting can take place, Meir is kidnapped out of Brooklyn by an Iranian commando team and clandestinely transported back to Tehran for a show trial, which is certain to be followed by an execution. What Andreas discovers in the wake of the abduction is that Meir wanted to recruit him for a clandestine mission into Iran to find and destroy a nuclear bomb that is to be detonated in Tel Aviv. Andreas accordingly tasks himself with a two-fold mission: prevent the bomb from ever reaching Israel, and rescuing his friend and brother in arms from certain death. Andreas has two clocks ticking against him: Meir’s show trial is set to begin at any time, and his execution afterward will be followed by the bomb’s transport to and detonation in Tel Aviv.
To further complicate matters, Andreas must complete the mission without the governments of the United States or Israel even knowing about it. There is a mole in the heart of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency who is tapped into the CIA as well; if Iran has even an inkling that either country is aware of its plot, it will expedite Meir’s trial and execution and move up the timetable for the atomic bomb’s detonation. Andreas is nothing if not resourceful, and using a combination of guile, experience, guts and flat-out extortion, he cobbles together a plan that takes him into the heart of the beast on what is his most dangerous operation to date. Can he stop the plot to strike Israel at its heart without sacrificing the life of the man to whom he owes his continued existence? That is the question that drives this book, and its answer will keep you reading and wondering through the night.
Ben Coes is a master storyteller with the seeming ability, demonstrated time and again, to predict the future. THE LAST REFUGE is a riveting and terrifying glimpse behind the veil that will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end, a thriller for this summer and for all seasons.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on July 13, 2012