Reviewer Thomas Drinkard: Thomas is
a graduate with a degree in English from the University of North
Alabama. He is a novelist and poet and his poetry has been published
in Negative Capability, Elk River Review, Cotton Boll/Atlanta Review
and others. For several years he was president of Alabama State
Poetry Society and editor of the annual anthology, "The
Sampler." According to Thomas, his real education came as a
result of ten years as a U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Beret)
soldier, living in Asia for much of that time.
Author: G. Gray Garland
Top Secret: Escape from Iran is an
action/espionage thriller. The President of the United States
is frustrated with the lack of intelligence about Iran and their
nuclear ambitions. He leans on the Director of Central
Intelligence, a man named Cabot, to find a way to obtain intelligence
or be replaced. After Cabot and his staff review information
available to them, they settle on contacting an American who has
actually lived in Iran for many years, even predating the Islamic
revolution. Robert McClelland is an adviser to the country’s
leading Mullahs. He has assisted the Iranians in the illegal
procurement of various equipment and supplies that are banned for
export by the United States and most of her European allies.
The director of the CIA
considers him a traitor but understands how valuable McClelland can
be as a source of intelligence and reluctantly orders his staff to
find a way to contact him. The CIA eventually discovers a
friend of McClelland’s from college days at the Virginia Military
Institute (VMI) and the Marine Corps; Alex Blair. When he is first
approached by the CIA, Blair is extremely reluctant to cooperate.
He has become a wealthy man and is enjoying the life has made as a
The first person the government sends to contact Blair is the Assistant Secretary of State for Middle Eastern affairs who wishes to arrange a meting for Blair with the President. Although he is reluctant, he agrees and at the meeting in the Oval Office, Blair is convinced to assist in the project.
Alex is then shepherded through preparations for meeting McClelland and participation in what has now been named, “operation Fish Hook.” Early in his briefings by the man who will be his “case officer” for the CIA, Robert Gordon, Blair is told that the primary mission of the project is to use McClelland to locate the Ayatollah Montazeri and to transport him from Iran to the United States.
Following his initial introduction to the elemental reason for the project, Alex begins training at a CIA facility in Virginia and is introduced to special equipment and operational techniques and meets his partner for the adventure, a stunning blonde woman named Patricia Diaz. Patricia is an experienced agent, but has had only one assignment before working with Alex.
The two of them go to Paris and arrange to “accidentally” encounter McClelland and, through him, wrangle an invitation to visit Iran. They discover that McClelland is unhappy in Iran, but fears prosecution if he returns to the U.S.
The book takes us along with Alex, Patricia and McClelland as they meet the Ayatollah Montazeri—who will only leave if he can take his daughter—through their preparations for the escape and the hide-and-seek they must play to reach the border.
They are pursued by a determined Iranian soldier who has a special interest in their capture.
I would have liked for the
author to give us a growing characterization of Patricia, but at the
surprising end, we learn a stunning fact about her background.
The story is strong and will
keep the reader interested.