Book Two in the Peter Brandt thriller series is set in Iraq in 1991, where a terrible mistake has resulted in the 'friendly fire' massacre of a small group of American soldiers and one mysterious civilian found behind enemy lines. Who was this engineer civilian? When a reporter stumbles upon the aftermath of the story years later and decides to investigate further, events take a darker turn as a cover-up and deadly mystery are revealed.
One of the many attributes of The Last Refuge is that it offers a twist on the usual thriller format of international intrigue, military operations gone wrong, and government secrets. Peter Brandt's moved from being a hired reporter to a freelancer and his comparative freedom in following a case the way he wishes offers mixed opportunities to explore new directions and face different kinds of danger. Just because he's not using the usual investigative routines doesn't mean he's not up to the challenge of a special case, and so his nose for trouble exposes his greatest challenge yet.
Peter doesn't do suicide stories anymore, but this mystery holds one. His home is a small, old office, and his beat has become the beach. All this changes in an instant with a whirlwind of danger as his investigation of the death of Robert Stanning turns into a series of confrontations with too many stunning possibilities revolving around Project Qari and a deadly scenario with Desert Storm.
Industrial espionage, intelligence agents and uncertain friendships, government-sponsored actions, and collateral damage purposely masked by survival decisions: all these are hallmarks of this solid thriller which is spiced with interpersonal actions and surprises throughout that challenge both Peter Brandt and his perceptions of the war.
Although The Last Refuge is fiction, it's based on historical facts. Perhaps that's what lends the story line its realistic, heart-stopping edge and what helps make it a standout in the military/thriller genre, highly recommended for prior fans of Peter Brandt and the espionage/thriller genus as a whole.