Avenger begins with the nail biting experiences of Calvin Dexter as a “tunnel rat” in Vietnam, where he fights the Vietcong fighters in the extensive underground complexes of the “Cu Chi tunnels”.
After his return to the United States, Calvin goes to law school. He is offered a job by a prestigious law firm, but decides to become a public defender. Calvin settles down, marries and the couple have a beautiful daughter. But it seems that happiness in Calvin's life is transient. He looses both his wife and daughter due to the actions of a person involved with the Central American drug cartel. Calvin “avenges” the death of his loved ones by killing the ruffian. However, a realization strikes him; He comes to believe that a person who takes away the happiness of others should not die, but should be made to realize his mistake and should me made to live with the loss, same as his victims. He moves to a sub-urban town near NY, where surreptitiously he assumes the role of “Avenger”. His job is to “bring killers to justice”.
The plot thickens, when the grandson of copper tycoon Steve Edmond is murdered in cold blood by Milosevich's henchman Zoran Zilic in Serbia. Steve hires “Avenger” (Calvin) to bring Zoran to justice in the court of law. Calvin's quest takes him around the world. The book becomes a thrilling read when one discovers that unknowing to Calvin the CIA is trying to protect Zoran, who is now in exile.
Avenger is Fredrick Forsyth at his best. In the book he eschews psychological complexity in favor of meticulous plotting, based on detailed factual research. Avenger is just “Unputdownable”.
This report prepared by Yajnavalka Banerjee
Thomas Dunne Books, An imprint of St. Martin's Press, 2003, 370
The main character, Calvin Dexter, is a young man in the 1960s who, with no better prospects in sight, enlists in the Army and goes to Vietnam. In Vietnam he is recruited as a tunnel rat, a small contingent of daring volunteers who penetrated the vast maze of Vietcong tunnels and attempted to take the war to the Vietcong in their own lair.
Following his discharge he goes to college, marries and becomes a lawyer working for legal aid in New York City. But this middle class family man's life changes when he loses both his wife and teenage daughter as a result of actions by a minor drug thug from Central America. With local police too busy to do anything to apprehend such a small fry now living abroad, Dexter decides to take matters into his own hands. Drawing on the killer and tracking instincts acquired in the tunnels of Vietnam as well as upon the specialized talents of clients he has defended over the years, Dexter quietly tracks down and kills the thug responsible for his daughter's murder.
But, as others before him have discovered, revenge does not replace the loss. Further, the thug's death, which is an occupational hazard for those in his line of work, was quick and final while Dexter still had to live with his loss. Concluding that the murderer should have to suffer like the surviving victim, Dexter sets up a secret side business dedicated to tracking down and bringing terrorist criminals to justice where they will be forced to spend the rest of their lives in prison.
The main plot of the story involves the sadistic murder of a young American aide volunteer in Bosnia during the civil war in that country. The young American happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and was brutally murdered as a result.
But the young American's grandfather is a wealthy businessman who is close friends with a powerful U.S. Senator. The grandfather first hires an international investigator to find the remains of his grandson and the circumstances of his death. Learning the grisly nature of his grandson's death, the grandfather turns to both his Senator friend in Washington and to Dexter (who operates under such self-imposed deep cover that he is just a mail drop to the grandfather) to find the killer and bring him to justice. The killer is soon determined to be one Zoran Zilic, a cold blooded, but highly elusive, killer. With the end of hostilities in Bosnia, Zilic disappeared from sight. However, a secret section in the CIA, headed by Paul Devereaux III, a dedicated patriot, is in contact with Zilic and trying to use him to eliminate another terrorist whom Devereaux feels is a serious threat to the U.S. In Devereaux's view, Zilic, despite his horrific crimes, has been marginalized as a result of the end of hostilities in Bosnia and, is no longer a threat to the American people. But the terrorist known as Usama Bin Laden is a threat and Devereaux has a plan to use Zilic to eliminate Bin Laden in late September.
It is August 2001 as Dexter plots to bring Zilic to justice while Devereaux works to protect him from Dexter. Because Dexter has done such a good job at concealing his identity, Devereaux and the rest of the U.S. government knows him only by the code name "Avenger". Since the book was published in 2003 the reader knows that Devereaux will not succeed in eliminating Usama, but this does little to distract from the tight drama that does not reach a climax until late in the evening of September 10th.
Killing and violence are present in the background through out this book but Forsyth spends very little time dwelling on them and the terse descriptions are just sufficient to enlighten the reader as to what is going on. The real action and tension is the careful planning and execution of plans as each of the parties seeks to overcome obstacles and carry out their own plans while thwarting those of their adversaries.
This report prepared by Chuck Nugent
Cal Dexter is the kind of modern hero that we all can respect. The child of a broken marriage and a nomadic childhood with a blue collar father, he volunteers for the Army during the Viet Nam era, serving with distinction as a 'tunnel rat', one of an elite corps who braves the subterranean maze beneath the battlefields to find and eliminate Viet Cong fighters. He bonds with a better educated superior officer and through this relationship finds the drive to leave the service and work his way through law school. Although offered a lucrative position with a well established firm, he chooses instead to become a public defender, championing the rights of the unfortunate.
A series of personal tragedies compels Dexter to lead a double life. He leaves public service and sets up a low key private practice in a suburban town near New York City, but in secret becomes 'Avenger', a skilled bounty hunter dedicated to bringing killers and the like to face justice. It is as Avenger that he is contacted by a billionaire whose only grandson has been brutally murdered while serving as a relief worker in Yugoslavia.
Unbeknownst to him, the murderer is protected by high level US government agents, who are planning to use this evil man to reach an even more important target, and are ready to sacrifice the life of our hero.
This report prepared by macheath
Dunne, Oct 2003, 26.95, 384 pp.
Fifty-one year old attorney Pete Dexter practices law on the Jersey-Pennsylvania line and runs triathlete events relatively successfully. People who know him picture a quiet unassuming friendly fellow, but Pete has a second job as the AVENGER, a renowned bounty hunter, that he keeps secret from his neighbors. Pete maintains a Manhattan apartment as his center of human hunting operations in which he answers ads in Vintage Airplane magazine asking for the AVENGER.
Billionaire Canadian mining mogul Steve Edmond hires the Avenger to kill Serbian Zoran Zilic, Milosevich's sadistic henchman for murdering his grandson. Following the trail from Serbia to South America just like he did the Cong in the tunnels of Nam, the Avenger closes in on the kill. However, the CIA does not wink this time, as they fear the consequences of this particular murder. To avoid global chaos Agent Kevin McBride must stop the Avenger anyway he can.
THE AVENGER is a typical Forsyth tale in which the action-packed plot uses real world events as a backdrop to a non-stop thriller that deeply focuses on a specific incident. The story line moves rather quickly forward as Pete begins his latest quest of vengeance for his client. A strong tale though no DAY OF THE JACKAL, fans of the author and anyone who appreciates a taut international thriller will enjoy THE AVENGER.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner