Blackstone Publishing, $26.99, 320 pages, ISBN 978-1-5047-9772-6
In the world of espionage, The business of spies is lies, which makes it impossible at times, to distinguish between friend and foe . . . because all covert operations are designed to advance the interests and objectives of the spying country. Put it another way and the axiom becomes: TRUST NO ONE. They all lie all the time. And nowhere is this illustrated better than in a thrilling new spy yarn in which a trusted ally and friend becomes a deadly enemy. False Flag by John Altman, posits a scenario in which a rogue Israeli Mossad agent attempts to mount the deadliest terrorist attack the world has ever seen against the United States, while leaving behind a set of clues that implicate Iran. In spy jargon it’s known as a false flag, and the hope of the renegade agency is to create an incident which will lead one’s ally and friend—the USA—to go to war in retaliation against the enemy state. Which, in this case is Iran, where crowds routinely chant: Death to America and Death to Israel, with depressing regularity. The plot is accidentally uncovered by an elderly Israeli-born woman named Dalia Artzi, who’s a lecturer at Princeton University in the art, tactics and history of warfare. And although she’s considered a genius in her field, Dalia’s life experiences have left her a pacifist, and her only son a prisoner in the hands of Islamic fanatics. She’s reluctant at first, to get involved. But her strong Jewish faith, which has instilled in her a desire to try and make the world a better place, compel her to do otherwise. And so, Dalia is pitted against another Israeli citizen, a young Mossad agent known only as Jana, who’s as deadly as she is dedicated and beautiful. Thus begins a game of hide-and-seek-to-destroy that begins in Washington state and culminates in Washington, D.C., with stakes that are impossibly high, to prevent an act that’s unspeakably evil. False Flag is so eerily prescient and electrifying that readers of all ages and sizes will find it hard to put down. It’s a thriller of thrillers because it’s so entirely possible, and utterly plausible in today’s raucous, unstable, uncivil, unpeaceful and war-torn world. False Flag is bound to become a classic among spy novels!