Tag Archives: ISIS

Book Review: The Prisoner

“better safe than headless”

I’m on Alex Berenson’s email list, and when he sent a message to his readers that John Wells was “back undercover in the Muslim world” I immediately went to Amazon and pre-ordered.

I was excited, but also a little worried.

Wells is a great character. Berenson is an incredibly gifted writer. But of late, a number of usually reliable thriller authors have used the Jack Bauer “24” method of going undercover with disastrous consequences (e.g. I have serious reservations about buying any future Scot Harvath books). I felt Berenson was right on target with his idea – I can’t imagine any fan of John Wells not wanting to read about him going undercover in Afghanistan for a second time – but I feared the worst, that Wells would morph into a bad superhero caricature and Berenson would have ruined a great series.

Now that I’ve read the book, I apologize to Mr. Berenson – sorry I doubted you. This is the best post-9/11 thriller I’ve ever read. In fact, it might be the best thriller I’ve ever read, period.

It begins with a CIA mission in ISIS territory. Hence, this great line from one of the operators: “better safe than headless.” After the mission, it’s clear that someone is giving sensitive intelligence to ISIS. Shafer and Wells – with support from President Duto – launch a bold plan to uncover the mole, and what unfolds is nothing short of mesmerizing.

Berenson takes readers on a vivid, surreal journey with pacing and prose that are masterfully executed and a plot that is all too real and terrifying. Berenson has clearly been to Afghanistan and the other dangerous / exotic locales used in the book – for no one could carry a reader down this path so well unless he first traveled it himself.

The book builds to a frenetic pace, and then Berenson cranks it up even more as it turns into a race against the clock to stop ISIS from carrying out an attack that rivals 9/11.

If you enjoy thrillers, read this book. If you really enjoy thrillers that also fall into the “literary” category, then you absolutely need to be reading Alex Berenson. I used to say no one writes that category better than Daniel Silva, but I think Berenson is at the top now.

Read this book – I highly recommend it, 5/5 stars.

Use this affiliate link to read more about The Prisoner on Amazon.

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Book Review: The Black Widow

If there was any doubt as to whether or not Daniel Silva is the best contemporary writer of literary thrillers, then The Black Widow should resolve the debate. The plot is intricate and multilayered, while the prose is as lyrical as a classic novel – add Silva’s grasp of the difficult terrorism related issues facing the world today and this book is a phenomenal achievement.

The story begins with a terrorist attack by ISIS on a Jewish center in Paris. It’s reminiscent of the recent terror attacks in France and Belgium. In response, Gabriel Allon and the Mossad work with the Jordanians and the French to infiltrate a network set up by the Islamic State.

The first two-thirds of the book is centered on the recruitment and training of the agent, and ultimately the operation itself. The final third of the book is non-stop, edge-of-your-seat thriller as Allon and his colleagues try to prevent an ISIS attack on American soil.

In the author’s note at the end of the book, Silva writes, “The Black Widow is a work of entertainment and should be read as nothing more.” However, he also adds that he “did my utmost to explain the roots and explosive growth of ISIS accurately and dispassionately.”

Silva is right on both accounts. You can simply read and enjoy this as a literary thriller, but you can also look to it as a primer on ISIS. It presents a clear and accurate picture of how ISIS evolved and why it is so dangerous. And finally, with his fiction, Silva offers a vivid, horrifying scenario for what could happen in the U.S. if our leaders are unwilling or unable to deal with this plague.

I highly recommend this book for thriller/literary fiction/political readers: 5/5 stars. Use this affiliate link to read more about The Black Widow on Amazon.