The Edge of the Machete by Abhisar Sharma is the second book of the Taliban Conundrum Trilogy, the first one being The Eye of the Predator, and is an excellent effort to unravel the extremely complicated equations that exist between the tribes, their warlord chieftains, and the various terror outfits that infest the hostile Afghan-Pak border region.
Sharma seems well-versed with the geographical terrain where this story is played out, as well as with the violent and unpredictable mindsets of our hostile neighbours that we in India, and now most of the free world, have to cope with.
The book has a gory start. CIA operative Jason Wilson is being tortured by his captors, headed by the maniacal Aamir Sherzai of the Tehreek-e-Taliban, which is the Pakistani clone of the Afghan Taliban. Sherzai intends to impress his peers in the sordid world of Islamic terror outfits by inflicting as much brutality on Wilson, who is battered to a pulp, with his face smashed beyond recognition.
Every cruel aspect of this outrage against the prize catch of an American agent is being filmed for posterity, from the cutting away of fingers to the slitting of the throat with a machete, even as is the pleading by Wilson, who keeps begging to be finished off because he cannot bear the pain.
This helpless pleading only serves to goad Sherzai to more cruelty as he gloats, ‘The body is brittle! The soul weak! It can’t withstand pain and that…that gives me such a high, Mister Wislon!’
Even as the rogue outfits of the region, the Ansar-e-Islam, the Lashkar-e-Islam, the Afghan Taliban and its Paki clone, the Tehreek-e-Taliban gather in the mountains come together to plan further mayhem, friends of Wilson, including close associate and buddy in the secret battle-fields, Eduardo Gomez, plot fitting retribution. This means that Gomez will land up right in the middle of the hellish region, disguised as Sarfaraz Khan. The ploy to get the terrorists to believe and accept Khan in their midst works as tapes of his killing CIA personnel in the agency’s headquarters at Langley in Virginia, are circulated, to much applause.
The Indian involvement is by way of Rahul Sharma, an Indian journalist who is grabbed by the Taliban in Kabul, in Afghanistan and brought to Pakistan’s Khyber mountains. Things get extremely tricky, and the Indian is to be executed by beheading at the hands of a British white Muslim named Shaun Marsh of all the people.
The book has various plots and sub-plots as the story moves from one godforsaken city to another, as Ed, sorry Sarfaraz, heaps bloody murder on all those responsible for his friend’s murder, and also on all those who get in his way, even as he does some intensive soul-searching himself, about power and politics. Well written and very plausible.
lThe Edge of the Machete
By Abhisar Sharma