In this military thriller, the story seesaws back and forth between three men: Connor Stark, a former naval officer turned mercenary; Damien Golzari, a special agent with US Diplomatic Security; and Abdi Mohammed Asha, a Somali pirate.
Stark, the protagonist, is recalled to service by C.J. Sumner, the new ambassador to Yemen; she wants him to help in negotiating with pirates off the Horn of Africa, who are impeding access to oil fields. But Stark, a taciturn man not ready to rejoin service, is already having his own problems with pirates. Three men tied to Somali pirates, with whom he tangled in the Gulf of Aden, have just tried to kill him.
In the meantime, Golzari, an Iranian by birth who has investigated crimes from Paris to Riyadh, is looking into the death of a young man, the son of a State Department official who died after using khat, an illegal drug being sold by Somali refugees in Maine. As he investigates further, he and Stark will cross paths, eventually teaming up. What they find will lead them all the way to the White House.
The third man stands in their path. Abdi Mohammed Asha is ruthless and hates Americans. He sees the college kids he sells khat to as “spoiled children of soft Americans...so easy to manipulate, so gullible.” But corrupting college students is just his first step in a terrorist campaign against America.
The author, Claude Berube, has worked for the Office of Naval Intelligence and on Capitol Hill. Consequently, his scenes, whether taking place in an embassy or on the high seas, ring true. But this is not just a book for those who like military fiction; plot and characters are well-executed in The Aden Effect, making this an engaging thriller for any reader.