Corrupt billionaire manipulates philanthropy

By Walt Braun

“Full Black” has a little of everything. It’s got Islamic terrorists, former Russian agents deployed as hit men and a long-range Chinese plot to sap America of its might from the inside out. And, of course, it has some good guys whose mission is to keep all this chaos under control.

Foremost among the latter is Scot Horvath. He’s a former Navy SEAL – from Team 6, no less – who is a counterintelligence agent for the United States. He doesn’t work for the U.S. government, though, at least not directly. Rather, he works for a private outfit called the Carlton Group, which exists outside the usual intelligence agencies to keep its operations from being hampered by bureaucracies and Senate hearings. What keeps the Carlton Group from becoming just another band of mercenaries is the dedication of its leadership and agents like Horvath.

The story opens on two fronts. On one, Horvath is trying to insert an agent into an Islamic cell in Sweden.

It goes badly and U.S. personnel are killed, but it nevertheless results in important information. On the other front, an acquaintance of Horvath’s named Luke Ralston, who’s a consultant for Hollywood filmmakers, is dropping a noted director off the director’s estate when he sees a suspicious vehicle.

In no time, several Russian hit men are dead – before they kill the director but not before they kill two film students who had been collaborating with the director Ralston just dropped off.

As for what the director has that’s worth such an attack, it turns out to be film evidence that one of America’s richest men, James Standing, is involved in a plot to weaken America to the point that it is vulnerable to technological and financial crises. Though capitalism has enriched him, he considers American-style runaway capitalism to be blight on the world.

When the Islamic radicals have done much his dirty work for him, he’ll use his international influence to redesign the world to be a kinder, gentler place – and answers to him.

Yes, it’s far-fetched, but it’s clever as well. Seems the billionaire has been manipulating some of the world’s great philanthropies for his own purposes, which include corrupting intelligence agents and helping terrorists do what terrorists do best.

Thus, one night, Islamic terrorists with explosives strapped to their bodies sit quietly in crowded movie theaters all across the United States, in large cities and small towns, and blow thousands of people up on cue. Others attack airports – from the ground, intending to increase the death toll by slaughtering people as they flee the terminals.

Horvath and his associates have plenty of backtracking to do, not the least of which involves connecting actions that appear unrelated and then tying them to the ambitious Mr. Standing.

Though the scenario in “Full Black” is, admittedly, extreme, but it’s nevertheless unsettling.

That’s partly because tens of millions of Americans wake up, send their kids to school and then go to work each day oblivious to very real plots against this country and to nonfiction warriors that serve as models for Scot Horvath and who do their best to ward off the next catastrophe.

The author, Brad Thor, is a master of this espionage-thriller genre, and has written a succession of bestsellers. He might not rack up a lot of literary awards, but he knows how to tell a story.

Walt Braun is the editorial editor for the Manhattan Mercury.

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