Book Review: The Morgenstern Project by David Khara

Posted June 15, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

Book Review: The Morgenstern Project by David Khara

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Morgenstern Project by David Khara
Genres: Spy, Thriller
Published by Le French Book on April 9, 2015
Pages: 265
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley

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Jeremy Corbin and Jacqueline Walls lead a calm life in a New Jersey suburb, when one day everything changes. Eytan Morgenstern returns to save them, and this improbable team must take on the Consortium, leading them on an epic journey from London to Tel-Aviv, from the Polish forests to Manhattan high-rises, from the shameful past to the threatening future.

After a lifetime of bringing Nazi war criminals to justice, the Mossad operative is once again fighting those who wish to study his superhuman body. The self-sacrificing secret agent must rely on the help of his friends to finally free himself of the physical and emotional scars of his past.

Also by this author: The Shiro Project

Third in the Consortium spy thriller series and revolving around Eytan Morgenstern. It’s been two years since Jeremy and Jackie met Eytan.

This ARC was provided by NetGalley and Le French Book in exchange for an honest review.

My Take

Khara has been dribbling out teasers for the past two books, and at last we learn a lot more about Eytan. And it fulfills (and more) all the horrors I imagined as we learn of his escape from the lab, and the men who set him on a righteous path. Karol’s “chat” with Eytan is perfect as he sets Eytan philosophical questions about the why of war, what drives men to battle. It’s also the story in which we learn why Eytan keeps his head shaved.

Nor is Eytan’s childhood the only horror, as we discover what the U.S. Army is willing to do to gain recruits. What a joke, semper fi. Jesus.

That said, Khara does jump back and forth in time, so take the time to absorb those epigraphs at the start of each chapter.

It starts off with a cozy, if loud, encounter in Morg’s Universe that rapidly descends into an unexpected nightmare. Part of me wishes that Khara had had the bad guys thinking the truth, to let me in on it, but I do realize that the tension wouldn’t have been as great. Sigh.

Khara makes a good point about the time and money it takes to train a good solider. How much more cost-efficient it would be if the soldier’s body and mind remained at peak condition longer than is normal. As glorious as it could be, Avi notes that mixing man and machine, “deliberately tampering with the course of evolution” is a bad idea.

Even worse is the theory they develop about deliberate plagues so a business could increase the number of buyers for their product. It’s scary because I can imagine corporations and governments callous enough to be more concerned about making money than in caring about the people around them. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Khara’s mention of fake vials of anthrax being used to push a nation into war. I’m sure the oil companies were able to find a few for them.

I thought Avi had taken care of that coffee machine back in The Shiro Project, 2?

I do love Lafner:

“You’ve reached the Golda Meir Veterinary Clinic.”

Then there’s his response to most of the agents he examines for health and mental issues:

“…and after examining an IDF soldier, you suggested that he be committed to a psychiatric ward.”

Followed by:

“The patient presents numerous intellectual deficiencies indicating a serious learning disorder. Re-enrollment in a primary-school program is advised. Plus, he’s a prick.”

It’s at the end that we get to know Attali better, and I’m hoping Khara brings him back in book #4. Sneaky bugger. I adored that scene at the end with Lamont.

I do have two problems with Khara’s writing. One is his characters. I do adore them. Well, the good guys, anyway. I love how they think, their beliefs, and their loyalty. They also have a potential for depth, which doesn’t get realized.

The second is the unrealistic feel to the writing. More like Khara is writing for young Young Adults or even older middle-graders. Admittedly, I’m basing this on the suspense, thriller, and military fiction stories I’ve read, but I do wish the men in this didn’t sound so namby-pamby. Yeah, they’re tough guys. Heck, Eytan could probably leap a skyscraper at a single bound. And while I do admire their protective qualities, they sound more like kids on the playground. It doesn’t help that they use each other’s first names, that none of them have nicknames, nor that they never use their last names except in introducing each other. They’re too nice all the time. That or they shout a lot when they’re expressing anger. What can I say, I miss the snarking I’ve come to expect when alpha men get together.

Eytan’s reaction to Jeremy’s lame teasing seemed over the top. Nor do I buy Jackie’s actions. She reacts like a new, untrained recruit instead of an ex-CIA agent and sheriff’s deputy with all the dashing about she does. I’m also having a hard time believing that the experienced Janusz would simply rush in without reconnoitering the area. Then there’s Karl-Heinz and what he considers honor. He wouldn’t know honor if it hit him over the head. There is no honor in what he does at all.

What is it with megalomaniacs who think they know what’s good for everyone else? Cypher claims the Consortium isn’t greedy or cruel…could’a fooled me…and they don’t seek to dominate the world…really?. Instead Morg states that people don’t need plans; they need dreams. And isn’t that what we all do? Dream about what we want from life? Dream about a future? Lol, we’re not much at planning anything, but yeah, dreaming is definitely a strong point.

It is full of action and drama, tense chases, patient surveillance, and strategic attacks as the group investigates and confronts the men who will lead to the head of the snake. That scene on top of the highrise in Manhattan…whew…

Then the coup de grâce when Dr. Meyer tells the group what he and his students have discovered about those prosthetics. Talk about betrayal. There is another that Eytan and company will employ with good results. For them, anyway.

“Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy.”

The Story

It’s a stumble, and one that could end with Eytan locked away in a white room, strapped to a table, and subjected to medical torture.

God knows, they’ve done it to too many others…

The Characters

Eytan Morgenstern is eighty years old and looks thirty, as a result of Project Übermensch. A Kidon agent for Mossad, he has a preference for motorcycles and a love for painting. Roman is the brother who was murdered by the Germans. Eli Karman is Eytan’s case officer and both “father” and “son”. He and Frank were the orphans Eytan took on to raise on that boat heading to the new state of Israel in 1953. Rose is Eli’s daughter who had her baby in The Shiro Project. Mr. GQ, Dr. Avi Lafner, is Eytan’s physician within Mossad. Both men are his friends.

United States – Current time

New Jersey
Jeremy Corbin is married to Jacqueline Walls (we met them — and they met each other! — in The Bleiberg Project, 1. Jeremy owns and runs Morg’s Universe, an indie bookstore with rare comics. The highly organized Jackie is a deputy sheriff these days within a small New Jersey town. Annie is their six-month-old daughter.

Michael Dritch is an enthusiastic customer. Greg Nadjar is the brainy, computer engineer with a passion for Tolkien. Mr. Adams is an elderly neighbor with a Welsh corgi.

Monsieur Lionel Datoist loves money and is an excellent chef.

Chicago University
Dr. Frank Meyer is another old friend of Eytan’s, the other adopted “son” from the boat in 1953.

Washington D.C.
The OCD Titus Bramble is a legend, highly thought of for his military past. He’s the current head of the paramilitary operations branch of the CIA’s Special Activities Division. Travis Lamont is a White House envoy, a total jerk, with an expertise in technology, a top advisor to three presidents.

The U.S. military

Lieutenant Delgado leads the mission to take down the Corbins.

A Marine base in Fort Wayne, Indiana
General Paul Bennington is a Marine. Steve is the guard at the gatehouse.

Israel, today

Chief Geopolitical Specialist Simon Attali coordinates intelligence.

London, 1942

Colonel Neville Wladowski is in charge of Special Operations Executive (SOE), an underground combat unit. Second Lieutenant Stefan Starlin is a very adaptable soldier with excellent improvisational qualities as well as arrogant and insubordinate. On death row. Perfect for what Neville has in mind. Sergeant Howard is a guard at the prison.

Poland, 1942–1943

Janusz, a.k.a., the Tawny Bear, was Josef’s childhood friend and had been a construction foreman. Now he leads the Armia Krajowahad, a resistance group, and inspires the Polish people. Vassili, a deserter from the Russian army, is the Siberian titan whom no man can stand against. Karol was the scrawny teacher from Krakow who is now their cook and speaks German well enough to pass among them. Marek, a clockmaker before the war, is a pyrotechnist from Lviv while Pawel is their sniper. Piotr is their Polish fighter and close combat expert.

Cecylia and Bohdan Jablonski are farmers who pray that their son, Josef, will return to them. Meanwhile, they help the resistance as much as they can.

Captain Bruno Reinke was one of those rare German officers, one with morals.

Berlin, 1942

Colonel Karl-Heinz Dietz, a.k.a., Der Jäger, the Hunter, believes himself superior to everyone around him, especially the Nazi officials. You want to see him as a good guy, if only because he despises Nazi policies…then you enter his cave of wonders. He will lead a special unit. Maria is a servant who has attracted his eye.

Reichssicherheitshauptamt Reinhard Heydrich is overly egotistical and the protector of Bohemia and Moravia. His boss, Reichsführer Himmler, has just ordered large-scale medical experiments on Jewish children.

Field Marshall Montgomery is pushing Rommel’s tanks in North Africa.

Camp Stutthof and Project Übermensch is…
…that large-scale experiment with an unwanted yet successful result. Herr Doktor Viktor Bleiberg is the scientist who created Eytan.

Iraq, 2003

Sergeant Timothy Terry is a Marine sniper who was singled out. Hansen is the joker while Baker and Charlie are the newbies.

Rio de Janeiro, 1953

Juliana is the beautiful wife, and Milene is his daughter. Two people whom Carlos Dies loves and adores. And I love the “torture” perpetrated on him.

The Consortium is…

…an evil organization that wants to oversee humanity’s progress and don’t care how it’s achieved. They did finance Hitler after all. Cypher is the alias used by the group’s leader (see The Shiro Project).

Jonathan Cavendish is the president of H-Plus Dynamics. Fergus Hennessy is his assistant, supposedly.

We first met Elena in The Bleiberg Project and got to know her better in The Shiro Project where Eytan helped her set up her death. Ian Jenkins is recovering after events in The Shiro Project *snicker*. He had been the CEO of a successful IT-service company.

Rocco DiSpirito is the New York celebrity chef that has Jeremy enthralled. I like this version of a substitute addiction, lol. A zombie commando unit is composed of men who have “disappeared”, “died”, who don’t exist.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a bright orange with a high-tech target in shades of red to orange with scales in black, a black swastika on a white circular background at the center imposed on what appears to be a topographical map. In the lower right corner are what appear to be fabric wings, like the wings of a butterfly. The author’s name is in a dark charcoal at the top with a reminder that he wrote The Bleiberg Project just under his name. The title is in white with a reference in yellow to the series to which it belongs. A blurb from Shelf Awareness provides their opinion.

The title is a direct reference to Eytan with a nod to his past and one to the now, for he’s The Morgenstern Project.

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