To unmask a CIA mole, John Wells must resume his old undercover identity as an al Qaeda jihadi - and hope he can survive it - in the new cutting-edge novel from the best-selling author.
It is the most dangerous mission of John Wells' career.
Evidence is mounting that someone high up in the CIA is doing the unthinkable - passing messages to ISIS, alerting them to planned operations. Finding out the mole's identity without alerting him, however, will be very hard, and to accomplish it Wells will have to do something he thought he'd left behind forever. He will have to reassume his former identity as an al Qaeda jihadi, get captured, and go undercover to befriend an ISIS prisoner in a secret Bulgarian prison.
Many years before, Wells was the only American agent ever to penetrate al Qaeda, but times have changed drastically. The terrorist organizations have multiplied: gotten bigger, crueler, more ambitious, and powerful. Wells knows it may well be his death sentence. But there is no one else.
©2017 Alex Berenson (P)2017 Penguin Audio
"Narrator George Guidall delivers a tone of intrigue while keeping to an energetic pace.... Regardless of which of the audiobook's many accents he delivers, Guidall sustains a consistent individual voice for each character.... Guidall is absolutely compelling." (AudioFile)
I love espionage, legal, and detective thrillers but listen to most genres. Very frequent reviews. No plot spoilers! Please excuse my typos!
The Prisoner is the 11th novel in Alex Berenson's John Wells espionage series. Earlier books in the series have dealt to a limited degree with Wells' personal life (specifically his ex-wife and his teenage son and his on and off conversion to Islam), but in this one for two years Wells becomes thoroughly domesticated with essentially a common law wife and their newborn daughter as he becomes a full time dad. He and his "wife" are even discussing making their daughter a little brother. But then his old CIA handler Ellis Shafer calls saying his country needs him for a job only he can do (Wells is fluent in Arabic and has physical features that appear to be Arabic). And the new president replacing Barack Obama is is an old CIA Director Vinny Duto with whom Shafer and Wells have bad relationships.
Earlier in his career Wells went undercover as an al Qaeda operative for a long period. He takes that name again and attempts to join ISIS in Afghanistan. There is known to be an ISIS mole in the CIA but his identity is unknown. The plan is for Wells to get arrested and sent to a secret Bulgarian prison which is also a CIA black site. Wells becomes the prisoner in the title.
The Prisoner has lots of ISIS terrorist activities including the planned use of sarin nerve agent for an attack at a state funeral in France where many foreign leaders are present. But what is different about this novel is the portrayal of the more human side of John Wells. Action and suspense are present in large amounts. Narration is by George Guidall as usual and it is stellar. The Prisoner has my highest recommendation.
If you love thrillers, than you have probably already discovered Alex Berenson’s John Wells series, and you already know Well’s backstory. If not, I recommend that you start at the beginning of this series, with “The Faithful Spy,” and, ideally, listen to all the prior episodes in this series before beginning “The Prisoner.” Otherwise, this audiobook might seem to move a bit quickly.
Like most thrillers, “The Prisoner” tells a fantastic story involving a super-human protagonist in an impossible situation. Berenson enriches this recipe with his encyclopedic knowledge of history, government, geo-politics, current events, and geography. He seasons the pot with more than a dash of cynicism and good writing skills. All his descriptions of locales — which, by the way, span the globe in this series — convey spot-on detail and accuracy, conjuring up a vivid movie in the listener’s mind’s eye.
In “The Prisoner,” we get to know the identity of the CIA mole almost from the beginning of the story, while John Wells and Ellis Shafer must struggle against the clock for the rest of the book, trying to track the traitor down. Berenson gives us some understanding of the mole’s motives for betraying his country — if not for his methods — by describing the horrors that he witnessed the CIA perpetrating in Iraq and Afghanistan. (“Buy off anyone who is for sale, and kill the rest.”) We also get disturbingly vivid descriptions of the even worse horrors that the Islamist jihadists are perpetrating on those who hold opinions or ideologies that differ from their own. (We can clearly see the source of Berenson’s cynicism.)
As always, masterful George Guidall delivers an excellent performance of “The Prisoner,” with his beautiful, mature voice, perfect timing, and subtle inflections.
I loved everything about this book (and all of the other John Wells books). The stories are well written, exciting, educational and have some witty humor (sarcasm). Wells is a true American hero but fights terrorism in other countries as well. As for the narrator....I'd listen to George Guidall read the phone book and be happy through the whole thing. I'm extremely picky about narrators and Guidall is my absolute favorite. If you're a fan of Mitch Rapp and/or Gabriel Allon you will love John Wells.
I teach. I Listen. I trust your judgment as a fellow listener.
All of the John Wells novels are high entertainment, as is this one. However, the end of this story (no spoilers) took took the path of least resistance, which is quite unlike the previous Wells novels that leave the listener at the edge of their earbuds to the last paragraph. Stuff was just too easy for Wells in the end, even to the point of finding the bad guys in a city of millions by chance...feh!
I smell a rat! This is what happened to Craig Johnson novels before his books went into television syndication. Johnson either got lazy or his TV editors starting working him over in a back alley. Berenson is starting to show signs of heavy-handed editing, as if his creative juice sputters out when the publisher says, "Hey, Alex, your year is up!...where's my script!!"
Prediction...expect a TV Series or Film in the next year.
I give this novel one Makarov up and one down.
It seemed like the author was in a hurry to finish the story. I've read all his other John Well's books and was disappointed how quickly he ended the story
Alex Berenson's 11th John Wells begins with him returning to New England after learning he's a parent again, but is quickly deflected when an old contact suggests the presence of a CIA mole. Wells ends up going undercover as an Al Qaeda operative, into a prison to force the mole to act. Instead, he gets wind of another operation in France. With the help of an old comrade and a local embassy marine, he manages to avert disaster one more time.
John's tradecraft is a bit rusty, although his fighting skills remain top notch. One might expect the opposite as he gracefully ages. On the other hand, the tradecraft of the mole is excellent, but his motivation is a bit strained, especially near the end. It might be time for Wells to find some action closer to home to allow for some family time.
The narration is simply superb. Guidall's gravely voice is perfect Wells and he manages to sustain a bevy of Middle Eastern and Eastern European accents as well as Parisians without resorting to limited repertoire of characters.
George Guidall. is one of the best narrator the way he brings the story is a picture in my head. the part when John is in jail and how he is treated and finally he is finding happiness with Ann. and his young daughter.
The Prisoner is the eleventh book in Alex Berenson's John Wells Series, and as you might expect, it takes the protagonist,a former CIA operative, on quite an adventure. The John Wells books are more inventive and a little deeper than any other series of thrillers I have read, which keeps me going back to it every time a new book is published. The hero - definitely a fitting word - is clever and capable in ways one can only imagine, and the stories Berenson comes up with are terrifying, because they seem eerily plausible. The Prisoner shows us Wells as he has settled into a post-CIA life, though unable to completely separate himself from his past and the world he lived in most of his adult life. Of course, certain events force him to decide whether he is able to stay away when his old bosses call on him. Will he stay home and go walk the dog or will he try, once again, to infiltrate a hostile place to prevent a major disaster from striking? Can you guess the answer?
This book is a solid addition to the series, and it shows Wells refreshing some of the skills he learned in the first book, when he infiltrated Al Quaeda. I liked that there was a bit of his personal story, which I always think makes him a more interesting character, rather than your run-of-the-mill shoot-em-up type of action hero. At times the book felt a tiny bit formulaic, but that didn't keep me from turning the pages. This is a smart, well-plotted and written thriller, and I definitely look forward to the next book in this series!
I love the way Berenson weaves real information, historical facts, and places into stories - they add background, texture and sophistication to the writing. The stories are more than stories. Many of the same characters are back, Wells domestic life style doesn't really change but he has settled into who he is. There is less suspense in this novel than earlier ones and fewer twists which is part of the reason for 4 starts and not 5. The ending wasn't as satisfying as some of the previous novels. Still a good listen and I do look forward to the next.
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