John Wells goes undercover in Saudi Arabia in a cutting-edge novel of modern suspense from the #1 New York Times best-selling author.
John Wells may have left the CIA, but it hasn't left him. A mysterious call brings a surprise meeting with the aged monarch of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah. "My kingdom is on a precipice," he tells Wells. "Powerful factions are plotting against me, and my own family is in danger. I don't know who I can trust, but I'm told I can trust you."
Reluctantly, and with the secret blessing of the CIA, Wells goes undercover; but the more he learns, the more complicated things become, and soon he, too, is unsure whom to trust, in Saudi Arabia or Washington. One thing, however, is clear: If the conspirators prevail, it will mean more than the fall of a monarch-it may be the beginning of the final conflagration between America and Islam.
©2011 Alex Berenson (P)2011 Penguin
Well written with lots of action. Not very realistic but kept me interested. Berenson is a good writer and could have a much better and more believably developed plot for John Wells.
Without a doubt, the John Wells adventures are at the top for excitement, thrills, character development, and just plain enjoyment. The Secret Soldier keeps the impressive streak going strongly as the story grabs you and does not let go.
John Wells is the main and by far best character in the series although the supporting players like Shafer and Duto help a great deal.
George Guidall never fails to bring to life the various characters, giving recognizable nuances to each character. He never over-emphasizes or exaggerates, letting the words tell the story but definitely doing them justice. I have heard other works by Mr. Guidall and they are all good but his grasp of the John Wells adventures is excellent.
Yes although life does not let that happen too often. Nevertheless, you look for any opportunity to push 'play' again as soon as you can.
If you love thrillers and spy novels, the John Wells series is about the best there is and the audio versions are a great way to enjoy them.
Possibly. I did not find the storyline to be as exciting as previous books but it was still an enjoyable listen. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.
The plot was good but I was not quite on the edge of my seat like I have been with the previous novels.
Yes, several. George Guidall is awesome as always. My favorite narrator!
Berenson has proven to be an excellent story teller and does an excellent job of keeping you on the edge of your seat, making your want to read the next book. Well done.
I will listen to NO boring book. Old Fav's,Card, King , Hobb. New Fav's, Hill, Scalzi, Sawyer, Interested in Lansdale, Crouch, Konrath
Spy novels are not normally my thing. Years ago a good friend brought me "A Faithful Spy" by AB. I liked it a lot. Even though the Rag Heads are still the bad guys, AB kind of gives you there side of the story. John Wells is an American, but converted to Moslem, when he was working underground with them. He speaks Arabic and is the first person the government turns to when they have a problem in the Middle East.
This book is mostly about Saudi Arabia. You get a short history and an explanation of there government system. The historical part of the book was what I liked best, as I am always trying to understand how different people think, especially those hostile to Americans.
Here are some interesting facts about Saudi Arabia, as told by AB: They have Religious Police and Saudi's can be arrested, tortured and killed for not being religious enough. Unmarried women are not allowed on beaches. The square in the capital is nicknamed the Chop Chop Square, because they chop off more then One Hundred Heads a year. Of the One Hundred Heads only half are Saudi citizens. The King believed that the sun went around the earth up until 1985, when a Saudi astronaut told the king, he saw the earth orbiting the sun. Even though unemployment numbers are extremely high, Saudi's don't do manual labor, as they feel that is beneath them, so they have thousands of immigrants do the manual labor. Women are not allowed to drive.
John Wells tries to explain why some Muslems are not dangerous, by saying that he does not believe everything in the Koran. He says to his friend who is a christian, "Do you really believe that Christ was risen from the grave?". This one statement convinced me that we will never get along with the Middle East. In this book are lots of examples of Muslims who believe as Mohammed preached, there is only room for one religion in this world.
My favorite AB book is still his first "The Faithful Spy". "The Ghost War" was good and I liked this book, but I almost gave up on AB after reading "Silent Man", which I did not like.
These books are in a series, but can be read in any order. There are references to other books, but not enough to cause you to have to read them in any order. This books starts out with an adventure in Jamaica, which really didn't fit in with the rest of the story and I assume was to tie up some loose ends from the previous book.
George Guidall is one of the pioneer's in book narration and he was the best when they started recording books. In the Nineties it was him, Dick Hill and Frank Muller. God rest his soul, Frank Muller died recently. Now there are several great narrators, but Guidall and Hill are still in the top tier of narrators.
Not sure I will listen to another of his books. some of the basis of the character was just not believeable.
The story I admit is a little far fetched in terms of believability but it is very entertaining and full of suspense. It is a very good book overall and a great listen for those John Wells fans.
I've read the entire John Wells series and they are all wonderful. Alex Berenson has created a hero that we can't stay away from.
I like how Alex Berenson combines thoughtful ideas with action plots in all of his novels.
However, this novel is a bit dark and depressing compared with "The Ghost War."
Also, the gimmick of an American hero who has converted to Islam to illustrate the point that the War on Terror is not a War on Islam was interesting in the last book but now is less interesting.
My favorite thing about "The Secret Soldier" is the accurate description of Saudi Arabian locations and culture.
John Christmas, author of "Democracy Society"
John Wells is an American Muslim and CIA Officer who speaks Arabic. His mind is sharp, but the trauma of old wounds seeps into his muscles and his psyche and slows him, and leads him to act with vengeance, as if compensating for his diminishing strength. Wells leaves a warm bed for this adventure, and the sense of time running out is no clearer than when he speaks to the woman he loves.
In keeping with the nature of a Dickensian serial, the first chapters resolve the last book, and the last chapters preface the new book. Although this is more effective than Daniel Silva's lazy copy-paste introductions and plot-wheel backstories, Berenson's decisions loses power for new readers to revisit the older books.
Wells becomes trapped in Saudi place intrigue, and Berenson creates a sophisticated portrait of the Borgia-like Saudi families and its crumbling patriarch. Wells Muslim beliefs are battered by the Saudi's compromise with thuggish, ignorant Wahabi. Wells race to Mecca is passionate and bittersweet.
During the set pieces, it was impressive to see Wells work with his razor-sharp mind instead of blazing with over-described munitions, as if listening to a teenager describe a naked woman.
The book, like most spy novels these days, is a variant on dystopia, but Berenson carries it with intelligence and insight.
I have listened to a number of George Guidall's recordings, and his voice paints in the colors of warfare: deep green, dark sand, polished black, but lacks the lush quality of a woman or young man. It is the right choice, but not a perfect one.
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