Avenger is the latest international thriller by Frederick Forsyth, who needs no introduction: his past bestsellers in this vein include The Day of the Jackal and The Odessa File.
The avenger is Calvin Dexter, outwardly a small-town US lawyer, who was shaped into a formidable killing machine by Vietnam. There are horrific flashbacks to his war career as a "Tunnel Rat", fighting the Vietcong at close quarters in their own deadly underground labyrinths. After taking the law into his own hands for a bitter personal revenge on a Central American mobster, Dexter hires out his expertise to grab untouchable criminals from safe havens and deliver them into the clutches of US justice.
His latest assignment is the toughest of all. A young American aid worker in fractured Yugoslavia met a revolting death at the hands of an ethnic-cleansing squad led by a Serbian war criminal. The boy's billionaire grandfather can afford an expensive revenge, but the trail seems cold... until, step by step, face-to-face investigation, lucky breaks, unstinting bribery and advanced computer hacking techniques trace the links from Serbia to the United Arab Emirates, a private plane, and a corrupt banana republic where the now very rich villain has the president and secret police on his payroll. Assaulting his massively guarded fortress--whose layers of defence include piranha, attack dogs and sharks deliberately given a taste for blood--would be one hell of a job even if Dexter had surprise on his side. But there are complications in high places. The CIA wants to use that Serbian killer as a stalking-horse in an elaborate operation against Al Qaeda, and issues an urgent warning that the avenger is coming...
Dexter plans an elegant, witty and almost bloodless coup, a sting in the style of Leslie Charteris's Saint rather than a Bond-type frontal assault. With the whole country mobilised against him, though, what chance does he have? Dexter, and Forsyth, may surprise you. The author has a knack for making background information vitally interesting: potted life histories of the characters (including big wheels in the FBI and CIA) are almost as compulsively readable as the major action scenes. Surprises and unmaskings continue until the final pages of this superior thriller. --David Langford [via]