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It is now two years since the fall of Kabul…

…and Clayton Dorn is living comfortably in the woods of Northern Virginia, far enough away from D.C. to avoid the hubbub but close enough to do the occasional consulting work. His days are mostly spent watching the wind stir in the maple trees outside his country home while grousing over America’s failed Afghan experiment. There are memories of Saarah, too, and the feelings for her that he can’t seem to kick.

Late one afternoon, Dennis Foerstel, a fellow operator from their Iraq War days, mysteriously appears at Clayton’s front door. West Point grad, special forces vet, groomed at the War College and now the CIA’s version of a Swiss army knife, Dennis is heading back to Afghanistan on a top secret mission and wants Clayton to join him. To do what, Clayton wonders while listening to Dennis’ pitch. What 20 years and $2 trillion had failed to accomplish?

Having declined Foerstel’s invite, Clayton grows curious and soon unearths some startling intel. Afghanistan is sitting on one of the world’s largest known reserves of lithium ore. Digging deeper, he also learns that the great powers are locked in a covert, Cold War like battle over this trillion dollar resource, attempting to control it, or doing their best to make sure that no one else does.

Thus begins another roller coaster ride in the Afghan’s Lipstick Warriors’ series, with all the familiar faces from the first two books onboard for Foerstel’s mission. Their ostensible assignment, help the resistance break out of the Panjshir Valley. There’s only one problem. Foerstel has gone seriously off the reservation and soon drags the entire operation off the rails along with him. As Foerstel’s adventure spirals ever further out of control, Clayton finds himself drawn back into Afghanistan, tasked with both rescuing his besieged friends and solving the fate of Saarah’s missing brother.

From the highest perches of American power to the lowliest Afghan villager and every blood thirsty warlord in between, Afghan’s Lipstick Warriors: The Deadly Sins takes the reader on another rollicking good ride, with America’s most honorable impulses and her most damning failures on a collision course from beginning to end.

Disclosure. I read the first two installments of the Lipstick Warriors series and was already familiar with the many ongoing characters. That said, the author has done a masterful job in this latest novel of weaving together old and new into a riveting, whirlwind plot that can be read as a standalone story. As a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, I found the depiction of life under Taliban rule thoroughly engrossing and realistic. Ditto the proxy war over Afghanistan’s natural resources. Sadly, the tragic fate of Afghan women remains the beating heart of this tale and the entire series, so here’s three cheers for Afghan’s Lipstick Warriors and their struggle to end Taliban tyranny!

-Chris Van Niekirk-South African Special Operations-Retired