Colonial historian Benjamin Wainwright gets a surprise call from his former college roommate, Jeremy Fletcher, their first contact since graduation 10 years ago. Jeremy invites Benjamin to a western Massachusetts think tank to help him on a project at the prestigious American Heritage Foundation, promising a fat paycheck and an impressive bullet point for his résumé. Benjamin jumps at the chance, only briefly wondering why Jeremy, who went straight from Harvard to the RAND Corporation to work on super-secret computer modeling for the government, would be interested in his specialty: early American Indian Wars. His second thoughts turn to dismay when he arrives at the plush Heritage Foundation campus to be greeted not by Jeremy, but by a state of upheaval. Jeremy has been found dead of an apparent heart attack, and the American Heritage officials refuse to call in the police.
Benjamin is taken under the wing of former CIA security analyst Samuel Wolfe, who has been called in by the Foundation. Samuel will only disclose that what Jeremy was working on was top secret, but he needs Benjamin’s help to decode mysterious numbers, drawings and ancient documents dating back to 1675 in Massachusetts, found on Jeremy’s computer. When two others associated with the Foundation turn up dead within 24 hours and Samuel disappears after a suspicious fire, Benjamin searches through a list of names on Jeremy’s computer. He tracks down Natasha Orlova, a beautiful Russian cultural attaché, and an aging Georgetown historian who knows more than he’s disclosing.
THE SHADOW WAR takes off like a missile launched by events of 335 years earlier as Benjamin begins to put the pieces of the puzzle together with the aid of the retired historian and Natasha. As the truth emerges, he finds evidence that the Cold War may have been nothing more than a monstrous game played by shadowy chess-masters from both sides. The pawns, or elected officials, were being moved about the game board, controlled by super-rich and overzealous power mongers, with bloodlines reaching back centuries. Their greed for control will lead them to do anything to retain the reins and protect their riches, be it property or, in later generations, industry.
As Benjamin and Natasha flee for their lives, their search will lead them to the French Riviera and eventually Siberia for a showdown at a remote wilderness missile site. The premise of THE SHADOW WAR is that the rules of the game are ancient and have been applied for centuries. When nuclear weapons entered as game pieces, the sport became more deadly for the spectators and players alike. Was there a secret agenda to the Cold War? Who really pulls the strings of power in the world, and how far will they go to conceal their hidden past? The conclusion could change forever how we look at our history.
This is Glen Scott Allen’s first full-length novel, and the pacing and his theories of political intrigue and conspiracy keep it rolling. If you enjoyed THE DA VINCI CODE or THE LOST CONSTITUTION, then you will not be able to put this one down.
Reviewed by Roz Shea on January 5, 2011