A CIA operative is brutally executed in Mohmand, Pakistan. A NATO convoy to Jalalabad is attacked by militants. The top terrorists of the region from different outfits are meeting to plan their biggest and deadliest attack. Pakistan is giving hollow assurances on delivering the culprits. America, pushed to the wall, launches a covert operation to plant a mole. Agent Eduardo Gomez disguised as Sarfaraz Khan, lands in Pakistan and straight into the terror hub. He's the new poster boy of jihad. A youtube video shows him killing CIA staff in Langley. The terrorists worship him. But soon, Gomez finds himself waging an inner battle with Sarfaraz, resisting the lure of power. Will he be able to avenge his friend and scuttle the grand plan?
That's the story. Pretty much. It sounds brilliant. But. It has too many subplots and men with damaged eyes. (Mullah Omar was the muse?!) The language remains a constant irritant – the turn of a phrase, an expression that doesn't sit well in a sentence, American agents using British colloquialisms, je ne sais quoi.
That said, you cannot question the author's understanding of the region, the politics and the terror networks. Just like his first book, Abhisar Sharma has weaved fact and fiction to a produce a thriller. It has a lot of detail and drama. And it is refreshing after the glut of stereotypic novels, depicting life in tier-two cities and the moral dilemmas of the Indian middle class.
'The Edge of the Machete' is the second book in The Taliban Conundrum trilogy. The first book, 'The Eye of the Predator', is also set in Paksitan and based on the killing of Baitullah Mehsud.