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
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.
I love this reader...one of my all time favorites
I don't understand how/why the main character is a follower of Islam.
Narriation was excellent. Story line was well over the line of good. I would happily recommend this book series to a friend.
The peak near the end.
A needle in a desert.
Bring back Ecksly!
I liked the way the story fit in with much of what is going on in Arabic countries currently.
The rescue attempt.
When she explains why the Ambassador's message to his wife was not "I love you".
I Enjoyed It!
All, great performer
no, but it was hard to put down.
I highly recommend it, definatly worth the credit!
Loved this book, George read very well as he always does. He kept me engaged, even when the author had to go into the details to set the scenes. The story was timely, well done and action packed to keep the listener on his/her toes. I would recomend, this is my second Berenson audio book, this one was my favorite.
In the latest John Wells tale, the reluctant super agent is drawn back into the shadowy world of espionage and black ops that he so desperately wants to avoid. The is the weakest yet in this series. Regardless of how sympathetic the author tries to be towards religion, the plot wanders into excessive use of cliches and routine standard fare for terrorist settings. Most of the characters are overly stereotypical and Wells is overly introspective. At the same time, perhaps due to all his previous stories, Wells has an uncanny knack for always correctly interpreting the minimal clues when everyone around him seems confused. The only novel aspect is that the author has transplanted elements of Pakistan into Saudi Arabia which becomes the basis for driving the storyline. Hopefully, Wells can enjoy a well deserved rest in NH before getting back fresh into the game again.
I'm reading Berenson's books in order. The narrator of the Faithful Spy was good. I have listened to better, but I would give him a B+or A-. After an hour of the Secret Soldier I would revise my grade to an A++. This narrator mumbles and rushes through his reading so much that Berenson's prose is almost totally obscured. My heart sank when I saw that the same guy has narrated other Berenson books!
How did he get the job?? I've never heard worse. The premise of the book is good. The descriptions and nuance are good. The protagonist, John Wells, is interesting. But it only takes an incompetent narrator to muck it up royally. My 3 star rating reflects a 4.7 for the book and a .7 for narration.
The Secret Soldier is a fast-paced, good, international intrigue thriller. It is well-written, and author Alex Berenson places his one-dimensional characters in some exciting post-9/11 situations. The author is a former New York Times reporter, who still writes journalistic pieces. The Secret Soldier rises above many books of its kind by the information the author provides about Saudi Arabia and the CIA. I “read” this book as an audio book. It is easy to follow during stop-and-go listening while traveling, and it makes a good traveling companion. Its best virtue is that it is good entertainment.
Fast paced moving plot delivered very creatively by George Guidall. His various accents were very impressive. Could have done with a little less gore depictions. Real time post postmortems at every turn. Given the chance, imagination goes a long way.
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