Tag Archives: terrorism
“You can tell us what the hell is going on,” Cartwright barked. “You’re the president, not a damned flight attendant!”
The security force of the District of Columbia and its most prominent resident, the leader of the free world, are in serious peril. Hotheaded terrorists and foreign governments are the obvious villains in this tale of gunshots, missiles and threats. Although the premise may not be a new one, thanks to the masterful split-second timing of author William Bernhardt, it becomes fresh and vibrant.
The entire story takes place in less than a day. Bernhardt builds the plot using one of his mainstay characters, Ben Kincaid. Rather than having Kincaid be the featured player, Seamus McKay, a U.S. undercover operative who is nearing retirement age, provides the action and the fireworks. Kincaid is the perfect intellectual lawyer counterpart to McKay’s clever MacGyver-like tricks and ploys. The folks rounding out the cast of characters include some slippery and self-serving Washington insiders.
This reviewer has noted that a plot device that uses one scene depicted from the perspective of several different characters is often employed by novelists to build dramatic tension. Bernhardt takes this device and builds the pace as though he’s smoothly double clutching in a Porsche. Resist the temptation to peek at the ending and your self-control will be rewarded.
Reviewed by Ruta Arellano. Reprinted courtesy of Sacramento Book Review.
“I can’t decide which is worse: the lucid dreams or the muddled reality. I have no one to blame but myself… I hate, hate, hate going to sleep at night.”
Former CIA analyst Susan Hasler’s debut novel could easily be classified as an autobiography. Hasler’s psychological exploration of the major, read that sympathetic, characters moves this tale into novel status. The plotline is so believable that readers will buy into it quickly. Lead character Maddie James uses her years of experience as an analyst at the Mines (the CIA) and her chilling dreams of impending doom to identify what she believes to be a genuine imminent threat to safety within the U.S.
The game of cat and mouse between the analysts and the terror threat is afoot once Maddie wheedles her boss into allowing an ad hoc group of specialists in the Mines to work together to address Maddie’s concerns. There is no need for a spoiler alert in this review as the novel is not a mystery. What is a mystery is the way that legions of upper management in state and federal government choose to disregard the findings of capable, well-informed line staff in favor of the politician-pleasing actions that all too often lead to disaster.
“The President doesn’t want to hear this.”
The story is peppered with government acronyms and filled with revelations of how far off public perceptions are from actual intelligence work. It’s no small wonder that more blunders and misses are not made given the pressure to please the folks up the chain of command that’s brought to bear on analytical staff. The analysts are badgered into following the party line rather than reporting on what is revealed.
As a former government research analyst, this reviewer felt vindicated by the thoughts and actions of the Mines ad hoc group of anti-terrorists mustered by Maddie as they race against an imagined deadline to thwart an attack on a civilian target of significant size.
This review was written by Ruta Arellano. A review copy was provided by the publisher (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press).