The Maltese Attack

Jay Perin

Publisher: East River Books Pages: 342 Price: (ebook) $3.99 ISBN: 9781736468005 Reviewed: March, 2021 Author Website: Visit »

In this thriller, set in the early ’70s, two teenagers learn what grit and determination mean when their survival is at stake in Libya.

Harry and his childhood friend Lilah are just starting to enjoy their budding teenage romance when Lilah’s parents are killed in a small plane crash. Lilah and her twin brother Dan are taken in by their half-sister and her billionaire husband Andrew Barrons, who live in New York. Barrons wants to adopt Dan—but not Lilah—as his heir. Aghast, Dan turns him down.

Meanwhile, Harry now lives with his family in Libya, where dictator Gaddafi and corporate raiders vie to seize Harry’s family’s small American oil company, a move that would bankrupt them. With Lilah desperate to talk to Harry, Barrons agrees to send her to Libya, seeing this benevolence as an opportunity to win over Dan.

When Lilah arrives in Libya, she doesn’t realize she’s a pawn in the oil game. She and Harry are kidnapped and, upon escape, they become political footballs, with good and evil forces pursuing them.

Once the chase begins, the book becomes a page-turner. The protagonists’ journey is rousing as they navigate the difficult terrain and consider whom to trust. Politics were complex in the early ‘70s, and the author manages to highlight political tensions without giving a history lesson.

The book is also chockful of interesting symbolism (Jared Sanders is the son of a Maltese immigrant; the Maltese attack is also a chess move), as well as biblical allusions (Lilah’s real name is Delilah; Harry’s family company is Genesis).

The story falters, however, when trying to explain the secondary characters’ enmities and alliances. In particular, Jared Sanders, a political candidate and possible friend of dictators, remains a shadowy figure. Because the author plans to continue the series, perhaps he intends to fill in this outline later.

The thrilling chase remains the drawing card for now, and fans of this genre won’t be disappointed.

Author's Current Residence
Bloomington, Illinois
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