This is the second thriller from Mark Abernethy starring Australian spy Alan McQueen. Alan made his debut in the book Golden Serpent, which was one of the best military sort of spy thriller's I'd read in a while, so I'm looking forward to this one. Golden Serpent was a fabulous combination of action, humour, and even a bit of romance (although not of the soppy variety).
From the Blurb of Second Strike:
In the early hours of 13 October 2002, Australian spy Alan McQueen is jolted awake by a phone call and told to head immediately to Bali, where more than 200 people have been killed in a series of bomb blasts.
Flores, Indonesia - 12 October, 2002. They sat like surfers waiting for a wave, the four of them dressed in thin black wetsuits facing south-west into the Indian Ocean. Huge blue-black and purple cloud formations loomed above as if declaring an end to the dry season and signalling the start of the monsoons. The swell lapped into Mac's rebreather harness as his eyes scanned the horizon for signs of the target through the salty humidity. Behind him the sounds of bird life and monkeys occasional drifted from the remote southern shores of Flores.
In the early hours of October 13, 2002, Australian spy Alan McQueen is jolted awake and told to immediately head to Bali, where more than two hundred people have been killed in a series of bomb blasts.
Descending into Denpasar, Mac finds tensions running high between MI6, ASIS and the CIA, not to mention the Indonesian national police and Indonesian intel. Assigned to keep watch on the Australian forensic scientists working the bomb site - where the official line being peddled is that all the bombs were home-made - Mac learns that in fact one of the bombs was a military-grade mini-nuke.
Trying to glean the motives for misleading the public, Mac pursues a shady group of businessmen-terrorists through the wilds of west Java and into Sumatra. But the trail goes dead when the terrorists fly out of Sumatra in an unmarked plane.
Five years later, Mac is a freelance investigator living in Surfers Paradise, with his wife, Jenny, and baby daughter. During an apparently routine assignment looking into the people behind an Indonesian bio-engineering facility, Mac's partner is shot and MI6 turn up rather too quickly. Before too long Mac finds himself embroiled in the dangerous world of a new nuclear arms race.
Forced on the run, with no Commonwealth back up, Mac suspects a connection between what's going on and the 2002 Bali bombings. Remembering back to a puzzling note he found back then with M4' written on it, he suddenly realises it referred to Mantiqui Four, the legendary Fourth Brigade of Jemaah Islamyiah, who are dedicated to an attack on Australian soil.
The race is on as Mac discovers that the Fourth Brigade still have one remaining mini-nuke device. With ever-increasing tension, he trails his quarry from Indonesia to the Australian outback. In a thrilling denouement, involving three SAS troopers, several Israelis, the Indonesian police, and a Pakistani, Mac finds faced with more questions than answers
In this action-packed and gripping sequel to Golden Serpent Mark Abernethy confirms his status as a master thriller writer.