In a bewildering back-forth style of plot development, Frederick Forsyth tells the story of a man who, in the style of famous comic-book heroes, leads a double life. An ordinary middle-aged attorney most of the time, Calvin Dexter sometimes takes up very risky and private assignments under the code name "Avenger". As Avenger, he tracks down, captures and brings criminals back to the United States to stand trial, and so far, his track record is impeccable. His latest target is a cold-blooded ex-Serbian warlord by the name of Zoran Zilic, who tortured and murdered a young American relief worker.
Moving from past to present in a dizzying and incomprehensible style, Forsyth then establishes Dexter’s impressive war and legal record, his reasons for becoming the Avenger, and also gives a heart-rending description of the murder of the young relief worker. On the way, Forsyth covers almost all major military events in American history for the past fifty years or so, beginning with Vietnam and ending at Al-Qeda. Whether the Avenger’s most risky assignment to date will be a fatal failure or not forms the crux of the plot.
Using a perception which naturally comes from distance, the author combines the various elements of politics, authentic historical facts, international terrorism and a healthy dose of fiction into an engrossing saga which, nevertheless, still reads more like a detailed military history book. And this book is certainly not up to the usual high standards that a reader automatically expects from the author of The Day of the Jackal. The very name "Avenger" is comic-ky, besides being reminiscent of a recent Ben Affleck movie called Daredevil, and this double-life cliché has been worked to the bone, first in comics and now everywhere else. Besides these trite elements, there is a crucial part in the story where a rookie reporter is shown to make a discovery which not even the FBI or NSA is able to, and this strikes one as very unreal. Even the ending is hackneyed. Besides an interesting and detailed look at military events and the growth of terrorism, this book has little to offer.