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A Jake Grafton Novel
By Stephen Coonts
Wheeler Publishing - Large Print, (2003)
ISBN: 1-58724-442-X
Genre: Suspense - Thriller

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - September 29, 2003

The arch-terrorist Frouq al-Zuair has purchased several Russian nukes from a rouge general who is more interested in hard currency than the fate of the world. A member of the Sword of Islam and a known terrorist, al-Zuair is determined to use the weapons against American targets. His plan is daring and dangerous, but the members of his organization are a determined lot, who look forward to a martyr's death.

Liberty, by Stephen Coonts is set in the world of today, and it takes a hard look at the effectiveness of America's War Against Terrorism. Peppered with references to 9-11, al-Qaeda, Bin Laden, Islamic Jihad, and the attack on the U.S.S. Cole, this story may touch a little too close to home for some readers. The story focus upon al-Zuair's plot to detonate his Russian bought nuclear warheads on American soil, and the efforts of Rear Admiral Jake Grafton to stop him.

In this latest edition of the Grafton saga, the Rear Admiral is working as the senior military liaison officer to the FBI - CIA Joint Antiterrorism Task Force. Were it not for a warning dropped by his old friend and former nemesis, Janos Ilin, Grafton might never have been aware of the threat posed by al-Zuair and his cohorts. Ilin is a former KGB agent, and is currently working as the senior officer in the SVR (Sluzhba Vneshnei Razvedki. Without the knowledge of his superiors, he warns Grafton about the recent purchase of the nuclear weapons, in the hope that Grafton can prevent them from ever being used.

With the approval of the President, Grafton launches a covert operation to stop the terrorist. To achieve his goal he is authorized to use any means necessary, whether legal or not. His task is made especially difficult due to inter-agency rivalries, FBI mismanagement, and the presence of a mole (spy) in the CIA. Throughout this novel, Coonts weaves subplots that could have easily been drawn straight from your favorite daily newspaper - ranging from industrial espionage to the erosion of civil liberties that has occurred since the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

Liberty is a fast-paced, action-packed thriller that captures your attention on page one and never lets it go. There are several unexpected twists to this story, which serve as a reminder that not all terrorists are Muslim extremist. Jack Grafton is a well-crafted character whose actions are believable, even in the most unbelievable situation.

Liberty is a 'flag waving' book that seems to imply that if you have to break the law to stop the bad guys, well then, you are obligated to break the law. If you look at this book in minute detail, there are several issues addressed that many groups will take umbrage at. Some readers may be tempted to scrutinize this book for hints at Coonts' political and ethical leanings. I find, however, that these "issues" just add some extra spice to an intriguing story, a story that will have you reading just a fast as you can in order to discover whether or not Grafton once again saves the day!

Note: While Grafton has appeared in several of Coonts' books, it is not necessary to have read the previous books in order to enjoy and appreciate this story.

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