Publication: 28th June 2018 (paperback) by Orion
Smuggled to the Middle East as a child.
Trained as one of the most elite insurgents of his generation.
Forced to do things no one should, for a cause he couldn’t believe in.
But as his brothers were preparing to kill, he was looking for a way out.
Now, on the eve of the deadliest coordinated attacks the world has ever seen, he finally has his chance.
He will break free and hunt down those who made him a monster.
He must draw on all his training to survive.
He is SLEEPER 13.
A jihadi group that trains its members to become terrorists since they were young. Children taken from their homes, away from their families, and taught to kill. Even though I knew that this is a work of fiction, it sounded too real and credible.
One of the protagonists of this novel is Talatashar (number thirteen in Arabic), but that is not his real name. His real name is Aydin Torkal, he has a sister, a mother, a father, and he lived in London until, when he was just a boy, he was taken to Afghanistan to train at the Farm, a jihadi camp, together with twelve other young boys. He is taught to kill, to torture, and to build bombs. But, unlike the other boys, Aydin has never believed in the cause and, years later, on the eve of a big terrorist attack around Europe, he decides to break free and stop the attacks. Even if that means killing the brothers he grew up with.
The other protagonist is Rachel Cox, an agent of MI5. She has been investigating Aydin’s terrorist group for months and she knows something big is about to happen, but, as people around her start to die, will she be able to stop it before it’s too late?
Rachel and Aydin are very similar characters. They both questions orders and don’t follow the rules if they think these are wrong, no matter the cost. Aydin never believed in the cause and, during the training, he questioned the moral behind what is taught and for that he is punished. Rachel often challenges her boss and risks her job and her life to do what she knows is right.
SLEEPER 13 is fast-paced and action-packed. We are taken all throughout Europe as Rachel and Aydin chase the jihadi group from France to England, to Germany, Belgium, Italy, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Spain. The multiple narrative and the flashbacks keep the tension high. I found the flashbacks particularly distressing and thought-provoking as Aydin describes children being brainwashed and turned into killers, as he describes his fears, his hopes to see his family again, and as he gives the details of the brutality of the training at the Farm.
There are many dramatic and emotional moments. And there are many many moments of suspense that kept me on the edge of my seat. SLEEPER 13 is an engrossing, provocative, and superb novel and I am already looking forward to the sequel, Fugitive 13, out next year. I’d like to thank Poppy and Orion for providing me with a copy of the book and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.
Rob is the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling Enemy series of espionage thrillers featuring embattled agent Carl Logan, with over 200,000 copies sold to date. The Enemy series has received widespread critical acclaim with many reviewers and readers having likened Rob’s work to authors at the very top of the genre, including Lee Child and Vince Flynn.