Forsyth's previous book was The Afghan, one which was not received well either by fans or critics. Mike Martin, the SAS hero from The Fist of God was reintroduced and much to the chagrin of all, martyred. The Cobra reintroduces us to Calvin Dexter of The Avenger fame. The story starts when a lady working in the White House breaks down during a state dinner. She is consoled by the First Lady whence her story of a grandson lost to cocaine is narrated. This story is passed onwards to the Commander in Chief of all forces (who we know is Obama, yet he is never named in as many words) who knows the depth of a grandmother grandson relationship.
He asks for a crackdown on the cocaine business & in comes Paul Devearaux, a veteran CIA operative & former director who's given the task of eradicating the drug evil. He ropes in Cal Dexter, ostensibly because Cal is the only person who's ever outwitted him. And thus begins a long drawn operation for the nipping of the cocaine hydrochloride business in the bud.
As always, God is in the details for Forsyth. We are told how the cocaine plant is grown in the forests of Columbia; of the process that converts the leaves into "pasta" & then into "puro"; the methods by which it travels across the Atlantic to Europe & how it is smuggled into the United States. And of the major gangs who have a holding stake in all these operations. Mixing facts with fiction is a Forsyth trademark and he never disappoints with intrigue. The book is a page turner.
The climax is a bit of an anti-climax, but we've come to expect that from Forsyth these days. It started with The Veteran, in which the God of short stories gave us some pretty mediocre stuff. That was followed by The Afghan, where an extensively built up story line was killed off in the end by the protagonists' death. The Cobra promises a lot & delivers on most of its promise. However, the reader is left slightly puzzled & wishing for more at the end.
Nevertheless, a 4 rating on 5 for this one!