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Reviewed by Jon Michael Miller for Readers' Favorite
Reading Qisas by A. A. Freda is like riding in a speeding truck with your family being pursued by the most dangerous people in the world. The action and complications never stop, and you are forever trying to figure out exactly what is going on. As a reader, it keeps you on your mental toes. “Qisas” is an Arabic word that means revenge, an eye for an eye. Well, let’s start at the beginning. Four Palestinians led by one Afghan concoct a plan to kill over 500 churchgoers and possibly to blow up the church. James Coppi, however, happens to be there to give a speech. James is a decorated Vietnam vet who, during the attack, borrows a gun from a parishioner, and with great damage to himself, manages to kill the four intruders as the Afghan leader escapes in a van from a local utility service. And off we go on an international chase of two groups each trying to exact “qisas” on the other.
I enjoyed the action but also the setup. A. A. Freda takes the time to introduce us to James Coppi’s family, especially his wife Samantha, who is a co-protagonist. He uses the present tense to keep things immediate and switches points of view so we see the actions and plans from the Americans and the Middle-Easterners, although there’s no doubt who we’re rooting for. James and Samantha have a business empire worth billions, as well as a lovely family situated on a Colorado horse ranch. Their relationship, she a believer and he an agnostic, has some domestic conflicts, but they pale in comparison to being hunted for James’s having minimized the damage to the Lubbock church and attendees. Author Freda’s prose is action-oriented, direct, gritty, soft when needed, and well-informed of the cultural contrasts—a perfect example of exactly what an action novel should be. So, fasten your seat belt and enjoy the ride!