Friday, June 20, 2008

THE RED SYNDROME by Haggai Carmon

The Red Syndrome is Haggai Carmon’s second novel, and the second to feature Department of Justice attorney Dan Gordon—Gordon specializes in tracking stolen and suspicious money across national borders. He originally appeared in Carmon’s first Intelligence Thriller Triple Identity.

The novel opens with Gordon investigating a routine money-laundering operation in a small New York bank. The Russian mafia is moving large sums of money from the Seychelles Islands (a safe haven for unregulated banking and tax evasion), but the case changes quickly when Gordon puts two seemingly unrelated events together and realizes something much more sinister is happening.

The CIA is called in to lead the investigation and Gordon finds himself relegated to investigative staff; a position that doesn’t sit well with his lone wolf mentality. He has trouble with authority, except his own boss, and when he discovers three encrypted messages at the bank under investigation he takes them home—rather than the office—and decodes a frightening message. The money in question doesn’t belong to the Russian mafia, but rather to an international terrorist organization with big plans.

The Red Syndrome is an entertaining and swift thriller. Its style is solid and readable. The technical details are fascinating; Haggai Carmon knows International finance and he makes it interesting. The plot is smooth, and while I guessed a major plot twist in the first third of the novel, he throws enough curves to keep the reader interested and turning pages.

Dan Gordon is a character that is not only likable and capable, but one worth rooting for. He’s larger than life, but Mr. Carmon also gives him enough blemishes and idiosyncrasies to make him interesting and relevant. If you enjoy a thriller with plenty of action, exotic locations and a heap of technical information The Red Syndrome will do.

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