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Publisher's Summary

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

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  • Overall

Curses! Islamists foiled again!

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!

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Chop, Chop Square!!

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.

19 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • J
  • 03-21-11

Save my cat John Wells, on please!!!!!

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.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Good Listen

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.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Grabs and holds your interest

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.

17 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • NOKWISA
  • Garland, Texas, United States
  • 02-15-11

Better Than Faithful

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.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Kelly
  • Colorado Springs
  • 02-27-16

A fun ride. A weak end.

The fifth book in the John Wells series was better than the previous two in many ways. I liked the underlying storyline of this novel. I enjoyed learning a little about the Saudi Royal famil. I enjoyed the various travels by air and seas. But, for me, the key to whether I like a book is always character development. John Wells is a richly developed protagonist. This book let me learn more about his life and his past. I always like when there are bits of story told through flashbacks.

However, I took away one star due to the ending which was horrible. The story fell apart and it left me wanting more - but not in the good way. Bummer. Nevertheless, number six is definitely in my queue.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Louis
  • Pittsburgh, PA, United States
  • 05-15-12

An aging spy torn between peace and vengance

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

The Secret Soldier

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

One of the best fictions I've heard in years

A great plot - exciting and satisfying, superbly written and narrated. My only complaint is that it was so short. I have not heard any of the other books in this series but now plan to.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful