Author: Tal Bauer
Page/Word Count: 951 pages
Categories: Mystery & Suspense, Gay Fiction, Terrorism
Release Date: April 26, 2018
Cover Artist: Ron Perry Graphic Design
The truth is complicated.
On September 11th, 2001, Kris Caldera was a junior member of the CIA’s Alec Station, the unit dedicated to finding and stopping Osama Bin Laden.
Ten days later, he was on the ground in Afghanistan with a Special Forces team, driven to avenge the ghosts that haunted him and the nation he’d let down. On the battlefield, he meets Special Forces Sergeant David Haddad. David – Arab American, Muslim, and gay – becomes the man Kris loves, the man he lives for, and the man he kills for, through the long years of the raging wars.
David Haddad thought he’d be an outsider his whole life. Too American for the Middle East, too Arab for America, and too gay to be Muslim. It took Kris to bring the parts of himself together, to make him the man he’d always wanted to be. But the War on Terror wreaks havoc on David’s soul, threatening to shatter the fragile peace he’s finally found with Kris.
When a botched mission rips David from Kris’s life, Kris’s world falls into ruin and ash. A shell of the man who once loved with the strength to shake both the CIA and the world, he marks time on the edges of his life. The days bleed together, meaningless after losing the love of his life.
After being captured, tortured to the edge of his life, and left for dead by his comrades, David doesn’t know how much of himself is left. He vanished one day in the tribal belt of Pakistan, and the man who walks out almost a decade later is someone new: Al Dakhil Al-Khorasani.
But strange rumblings are whispering through the CIA. Intelligence from multiple sources overseas points to something new. Something deadly, and moving to strike the United States. Intercepts say an army from Khorasan, the land of the dead where the Apocalypse of Islam will rise, is coming.
And, at the head of this army, a shadowy figure the US hasn’t seen before: Al Dakhil Al-Khorasani.
David is coming home.
5✨s – After the complexity and suspense of his “Enemies of the State” series, I wondered how Tal could ever top that. Tal replied…”here, hold my beer”.
“Whisper” is an absolute tour de force, intense and powerful, packing an emotional punch greater than anything else Tal Bauer has yet written, in my opinion. It’s also an epic saga of love and romance through a time of war and the long, never ending battles against terrorism. Opening on 9/11, the history of US retaliation and subsequent invasions are used to shape and define the characters of Kris and David. Settings and circumstances are brutal and shaking, with both men feeling the cost of their service weighing down their souls. The narrative covers years of time where Kris and David are both together and apart. A strong cast of secondary characters adds to the suspense and gravity of events throughout the book.
It’s a riveting, absorbing story with strong political context, solidly anchored by the romantic destiny of these two men. It was all I could do to tear myself away to tend to real life. The extended opening scenes are crucial to understanding actions and responses from Kris and David as the story progresses, David in particular. Romance builds very slowly but David is Kris’s rock and touchstone right from the start, their intimate dialogues moving and thoughtful. Love scenes are plentiful, evocatively erotic but quite non-explicit. Think of a man in a well tailored suit with the jacket slung over his shoulder, top buttons of his shirt undone, sleeves rolled back to show his forearms and the curve behind his zipper quite evident. That kind of erotic! They’re well placed in the narrative, enhancing the action going on around them, often making them quite poignant.
Very much like Tal’s prior work, expect to run a gamut of emotions. Some scenes are quite brutal, some so strongly suspenseful I thought my heart would burst and more than a few will bring the tears. It’s a deep dive into Islamic religious beliefs too, never preachy or dogmatic but does touch on pervasive prejudices, intensified in current political climates. I strongly encourage reading the author notes at the end, because the quantity and quality of research and fact gathering is phenomenal. I’m also reminded of the 1957 book “Doctor Zhivago” by Boris Pasternak, about star-crossed lovers, set around the Russian Revolution and WWll, only without the dour Russian atmosphere. If you enjoy military themes, political thrillers, action and adventure plus loads of suspense, I can’t recommend this any more highly.
About Tal Bauer:
Tal Bauer is an award-winning and best-selling author of LGBT romantic thrillers, bringing together a career in law enforcement and international humanitarian aid to create dynamic characters, intriguing plots, and exotic locations. He is happily married and lives with his husband and their Basset Hound in Texas. Tal is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Mystery Writers of America.
Where to find Tal Bauer: