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
I love espionage, legal, and detective thrillers but listen to most genres. Very frequent reviews. No plot spoilers! Please excuse my typos!
....will be released in 6 weeks so I am writing a review of one of the earlier books in the series. Alex Berenson is not among the top tier of espionage thriller writers, but his Wells novels are consistently 4 star or better. This series is unique in that John Wells is a Muslim and a CIA agent deeply involved in the war on terror. Do not compare Alex Berenson to the great Vince Flynn or even to Ben Coes or Mark Greaney because he is simply not at their level, but his books are entertaining. Comparisons to the John Rain series by Barry Eisler and the Jericho Quinn series by Marc Cameron are more apt. The fabulous George Guidall narrates and he always makes a novel better.
There are plenty of good guy American vs Islamist terrorist books out. This one has a fairly unbelievable plot with a few holes but I still found it good for its entertainment value. Thrillers like this are just plain fun to listen to. If you enjoy Tom Clancy, Brad Thor, Vince Flynn, you will likely enjoy this author. The action is pretty much non-stop so you won't want to put it down. Enjoy!
Good fun, recommended in the style of covert spy "read and toss" airplane books. Not particularly believable in any way shape or form, but so what? Pops rights along, good background but at times reads like an action hero story written by wikipedia. Has the pace and form of the movie The Kingdom, which was great. Hmmm, a good portion of this book reads as if it was written while actually watching The Kingdom. And Berenson should bail on trying to write in the love interests in his stories. Why bother, they're thin, pointless and a distraction. "Yes I killed 6 people today, but I love you. Let's have pancakes." Narration and sound is perfectly fine, but Guidall is at times so sonorous that he'll put you right to sleep if you're listening while lying down. Go for it. The Middle East background is reasonably legit, and you'll have a fun listen.
Retired Military Officer & Pilot. President of a national executive search firm specializing in recruitment and placement of Physicians.
As a retired military officer, who spent a year in Vietnam I can attest to the accuracy of this novel. His use of colloquialisms and military routines are dead on. His character painting is vivid and it makes you care about his characters. I couldn't wait to see how the Marines were doing each day as I got my dose of this audio book. It is one of those books that grabs you and holds you throughout. When its over you wish there was more.
I enjoy counter-terrorism, westerns, historical fiction, detective mysteries, and old school comedy like "A Christmas Story".
I enjoyed the story however I compare every counter terrorist authors skills to Vince Flynn's excellence. This Berenson novel had about 25% of the action that I find in Flynn's action novels. Still, I have no regrets thanks to the superb narration of George Guidall.
I found this book a little hard getting into this time. I love Berenson and Guidall and will always be a fan. I couldn't give it a high five because some of the story was a little far fetched and it did lag in some areas. I also felt the ending was a bit trite. I loved the Secret Spy much better.
My taste differs from kid books to gory horror books.
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.
The Action is fair but the story moves and doesnt bog down on you. Guidall is fabulous as usual . His narration made the book more enjoyable for me. I liked this side of the Wells character much better than the brooding, pouty guy in Faithful Spy. I thought a request from the King of the House of Saud was a bit out there but we are reading fiction here.. arent we?? Perhaps I will try another in this series.
This was my first book from Alex Berenson and he now has a new fan. I enjoyed this book as much as any I have ever read and that is saying something. I will read all his books now. Keep'em coming.
Entrepreneur + Avid Reader + Concerned Political Skeptic
Berenson's recipe is excellent - he spins a highly believable story around solid characters and then adds a pinch of regional history in this well-written, easy to listen to chapter in John Well's life. The book sets up a certain degree of follow-up but leaves a rewarding ending to this particular story.
I was happy enough with George Guidall's work - but I felt there was a little inconsistency in Well's voice. My take on the inconsistency is a very minor point and Guidall's overall performance was more than solid.
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