Evil Winds by Michael Shusko

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Evil Winds: Tradecraft Phase Two 
Michael Shusko 
2018

♦♦♦♦
4 Stars

 

Angie Bryant is a reporter who has developed a singular focus, the atrocities in Darfur, a southern region of Sudan. Unlike other mainstream journalists, Angie wants to put her boots on the ground to not just witness the conflict but actively do something about it. She is idealistic and unevenly naive but entirely earnest and competent. Yet, it’s clear she is pursuing this story for selfish reasons; it’ll make her career. Thus, Michael Shusko immediately signals to readers the first moral arch of his new novel Evil Winds. But it isn’t the last nor the most complex or compelling.

In Darfur, Angie teams up with Jason Russo, a NGO doctor in neighboring Chad in the east, desperately trying to gather the support and supplies necessary to care for the waves of people escaping violence. And it’s a violence on all sides, as the people of Sudan are targeted by their government as well as rebel jihadists. Shusko doesn’t waste time in throwing readers into the thick of action. Angie and Jason witness a jihadist attack on refugees as they viciously gun down the unarmed. For Angie, it immediately becomes clear the world needs to know about the horrors going on. But the visceral violence they witness is only the surface. The pair not only get pulled into but dive deep into the Janjaweed jihadist organization discovering the terrorists use of child labor in gold mines to fund themselves. Jason and Angie refuse to leave the children behind fighting their way deeper into region to free them.

As a naval officer and physician, Shusko draws on his personal experience as most thriller and suspense writers do to color and flavor his novel. This gives readers a deep sense of realism as Shusko crafts a suspenseful, action driven plot. Prior to Evil Winds, Shusko has written two other books in his Tradecraft series, which if they are anything like this novel are more than worth the time to read. What makes Shusko’s novels stand out and Evil Winds in particular is that they don’t glamorize spycraft or the military but show the non-governmental organizations are usually the first wave, the avant garde in confronting humanitarian crises. These crises are, all too frequently, out-growths of ignorant or short-sighted political maneuvers in first world nations.

Readers are going to find Shusko doesn’t pull his punches showing them brutal conflict. Yet, he is skilled enough to show how ‘all politics is local’ by deftly revealing the tensions within jihadist organizations and how power is created and maintained within them. Evil Winds will satisfy readers who love international intrigue and the political machinations going on between NGOs, governments, corporations, and terrorist organizations. His prose is vivid and easy to follow yet Shusko is adept at creating seemingly side plots which soon bloom into major ones.

 

About the Author

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Michael Shusko, MD, MPH, FAAFP, FACOEM, is an author, medical doctor and decorated Marine and Naval officer who has worked on intelligence and medical missions across the globe. Fluent in Arabic, he holds a bachelor’s degree in Middle Eastern studies from Rutgers University. Post-undergrad, Dr. Shusko transferred from the Marines to the Navy Medical Corps and attended medical school at Wake Forest University, obtaining his medical degree in 2002. He also studied at Harvard University, earning his Master’s of Public Health degree in 2013. Dr. Shusko’s Middle Eastern experience and language skills coupled with his background in special operations and intelligence keep him busy deploying around the world. He has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia. Dr. Shusko has been awarded the Bronze Star twice for service in Iraq and Afghanistan. He currently lives in Japan with his wife and 18-year-old triplet sons.

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