cover image The Fourth Horseman

The Fourth Horseman

David Hagberg. Forge, $27.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-7653-3463-3

In Hagberg’s implausible 18th thriller featuring former CIA director Kirk McGarvey (after 2015’s Retribution), David Haaris, the hate-filled head of the CIA’s Pakistan desk, who was mocked as a schoolboy in England as a “rag head,” plans “to strike a blow against the West that would be worse than a thousand 9/11s.” Haaris begins by taking advantage of a private audience with an old friend, Farid Barazani, the “openly pro-Western new president of Pakistan,” to shoot him dead. Then, disguised, Haaris displays Barazani’s severed head to the crowds gathered near the presidential palace, who call him Messiah, the one who will redeem his country. Alarmed at the risk of loose Pakistani nukes, U.S. president Charlene Miller asks McGarvey to assassinate the man now known as the Messiah. Haaris comes under suspicion remarkably quickly, given his position of trust, and he does a number of things that only validate those concerns about his loyalties. The contrivance at the end will elicit groans and undercuts the intended portrayal of the lead as a skilled operative. (Feb.)