The Cobra, Frederick Forsyth, ISBN 9780552159913
The Cobra (paperback)

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by: Frederick Forsyth
Publisher:Corgi Books
ISBN: 9780552159913
List Price: Rs. 299.00
Our Price: Rs. 224.00
Pages: 400
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The Cocaine industry is worth billions of dollars a year to the drug cartels who spread their evil seed across Western society. Its usage causes incalculable misery, poverty and death. Slowly, gradually, inexorably it is is a blight which must be stopped. One man, Paul Devereaux, intellectual, dedicated, utterly ruthless and ex-CIA special ops, is given what seems like an impossible task. At his disposal, anything he wants – men, resources, money. He will not stop until he has completed his mission.

Media Reviews of The Cobra
Forsyth was a journalist before he turned to fiction, and one of his strengths, going back to his 1971 classic, "The Day of the Jackal," has been his exhaustive research. In "The Cobra," we soon learn more than we ever expected to know about the growth, production, transportation and sale of cocaine. For the first half of the novel, a fascinating account of a corporate-style cartel's multibillion-dollar business alternates with a portrait of Devereaux grimly building a military force to destroy it.

Forsyth does not devote the same care to his characters, who are easily identified as the good guys and the bad guys. Devereaux is a hero and patriot, as is his deputy, lawyer Cal Dexter, who became a nemesis of criminals after his daughter was raped and murdered in a previous Forsyth novel. The U.S. and British military men who assist them are equally heroic. The drug lords, by contrast, are vicious, cowardly, paranoid and given to settling disputes with torture and chainsaws.

Once the war begins, it's almost laughably one-sided. Devereaux's secret army/navy/air force can halt a ship at sea, disrupt its communications via high-tech electronics, seize its tons of cocaine, take its crew prisoner and sink the ship without the cartel knowing what hit them. Forsyth scorns political correctness, but he resorts to a version of it in these attacks. The cartel's cocaine-carrying airplanes can't be stopped at sea like ships; they have to be blown out of the skies. But his high-minded U.S. and British pilots aren't into coldblooded murder. Happily, an officer of the Royal Air Force tells Dexter: "Mind you, there is one Air Force that will blow a cocaine smuggler out of the sky without compunction. The Brazilians." Just why Brazilian pilots are given to homicide is unclear, but we soon meet Maj. Joao Mendoza, who -- driven in part by having lost his younger brother to cocaine -- gladly incinerates 17 drug-laden planes and their crews.
There's some good writing in "The Cobra," and fans of military adventures may delight in it. Forsyth remains a master of logistics, but the novel's plot is often unconvincing, and the war on cocaine finally becomes a fantasy that spins out of control. After I finished the novel, I picked up "The Dogs of War" (1974), Forsyth's third novel, which I'd never read. It concerns some mercenaries who set out to conquer a small African nation. It's brilliant, fascinating, reminiscent of Ernest Hemingway's work. "The Cobra," by contrast, too often reminded me of Tom Clancy.
A review found in The Washington Post.

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