While the Obama Administration is decisive about declaring war on Fox News and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, but dithers on whether to go after the jihadists in Afghanistan, some of our most popular fiction writers are showing that they know who the real enemies are—and how to deal with them.
Pursuit of Honor by Vince Flynn
We can now close the nominations for Book Most Likely to Provoke a Hissy Fit from the ACLU. In the fiction category, the clear winner is Vince Flynn's latest Mitch Rapp thriller, Pursuit of Honor, (Atria, $27.99) in which our hero is a one man wrecking crew against enemies foreign and domestic in a way that might make even Dick Cheney say, "Hey, wait a minute," (though Glenn Beck sure liked it!)
(Nonfiction honors go to The Last Undercover, by Bob Hamer, in which the former undercover FBI agent who was dubbed by colleagues "the Mitch Rapp of the FBI" exposes the ACLU's collaboration with the child molestation conspiracy known as NAMBLA.)
Pursuit of Honor takes place immediately after Flynn's last book, Extreme Measures, as Rapp hunts the trio of al Qaeda terrorists who were behind the nearly disastrous attack on counter-terrorism HQ, and (ruthlessly) works to uncover the enemies at the CIA that helped make it possible.
Meanwhile, Mitch is being investigated by an antagonistic member of the Senate Intelligence Committee for twisting a terrorist's arm as the attack was going down. (If that sounds far-fetched, remember that among the bill of particulars in Eric Holder's current CIA investigation is that cigar smoke was blown into the face of some detainees at Gitmo.)
Pursuit of Honor is about as subtle as a broadsword, but nuance is not what Flynn's legions of fans are after—though subplots about the effects of violence on both sides of the fight are examined by Flynn with a surprising result.
It's hard to say which will tick the Left off more: Rapp's arguments in favor of torturing pretty much any bad guys who withhold information that endangers American lives; or his outrage that while he is out protecting babies from being torn apart by terrorist bombs, the same members of Congress who are indignant about Rapp's methods are protecting the "right" of "doctors" to commit acts against the unborn (or partially born) that would make al-Qaeda shudder.
Evidence by Jonathan Kellerman
While that was new angle for Vince Flynn, smacking around those for whom political or philosophical considerations take precedence over innocent human life is old hat for Jonathan Kellerman. Other than Dean Koontz, no bestselling novelist has written more pro-life novels—though Kellerman masterfully integrates his points seamlessly into the story, with considerably less lecturing.
In his latest, Evidence, (Ballantine, $28.00) psychologist and LAPD consultant Alex Delaware, and his best friend, Homicide detective Milo Sturgis, are investigating the murder of a lothario "green" architect, who was murdered in a decidedly un-green mega-mansion, along with an unidentified woman, and left in a decidedly undignified position.
The tangled web leads them through a "green" design firm which is basically a do-nothing hobby for a German trust fund baby; a nest of eco-terrorists who activities range from planting fake evidence of "endangered species" on about to be developed property to burning things down with "vegan napalm;" and a the shadow corporations of Muslim sultan from an obscure Indonesian province.
Evidence is a solid entry in this popular and extremely long-running series. While the plot is an exceedingly intricate puzzle, the human factor is what matters here, and what keeps the reader engaged and turning the pages.
The Siege by Stephen White, and Hostile Intent by Michael Walsh
Our next two books have a lot in common. Both begin with a gripping Beslan-style hostage taking of students by terrorists—and each author has been seen as directly emulating one of the above mega-selling novelists.
One would hesitate to be crass enough to say that Stephen White's The Siege(Dutton, $25.95) is "blessed" by good timing, but this story of murder and terrorism at Yale was released just as the bizarre real life murder of a Yale student was dominating the headlines.
The Siege is more or less a stand-alone novel, though it features a supporting character from White's series about Alan Gregory a crime-solving psychologist whose best friend is a cop—which sometimes draws him criticism for being essentially a Colorado version of Alex Delaware.
Aforementioned cop, Sam Purdy, on suspension from the Boulder PD, is asked by a family friend to investigate the fact that her daughter, a Skull and Bones initiate at Yale, has not been heard from in a while. Soon, Purdy finds that all the initiates are being held hostage in the Skull and Bones "tomb," and while tense and deadly negotiations with the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team go on in public, behind the scenes, Purdy discovers that the real ransom demands are going out to the parents—some of the nation's most influential people.
I'm generally a fan of White's Gregory series, but his two best books are his side projects, the ingenious Kill Me, which stripped away the easy "I wouldn't want to live like that" cliché of assisted suicide, and this excruciatingly suspenseful book.The Siege examines "blowback" in the War on Terror, and the unexpected, but immensely satisfying conclusion, depends on whether America really is the indiscriminately violent country of leftist propaganda, or basically good and imperfectly trying to do the right thing in a violent and barbaric world.
The Siege is one of those frightening books which one hopes the terrorists don't read and say, "I never thought of that, that might work." It's one of the season's very best.
Veteran novelist Michael Walsh has written columns for Frontpage and Big Hollywood pitching his new series hero, comparing him to Mitch Rapp. Said hero, Devlin, is an operative so secret even the President cannot be trusted with the details of his existence.
The first Devlin novel, Hostile Intent, (Pinnacle, $6.99) opens with terrorists seizing an elementary school, but their real aim is to flush out Devlin and eliminate him, so a George Soros-like zillionaire can launch an operation to destroy America.
Devlin is probably more like Jason Bourne (from the books, not the cynical movies) than like Mitch Rapp, and in fact, this wide ranging (probably too wide-ranging) plot includes Bourne's original nemesis in its wild finish. Hostile Intent is audacious in the extreme, and a lot of fun, though it makes any Ludlum book I've ever read seem linear and uncomplicated by comparison.
Dexter by Design by Jeff Lindsay
If you think that Mitch Rapp and Devlin are too harsh in dealing with terrorists, then you definitely aren't ready for the way Dexter Morgan interacts with the local predator population. In Jeff Lindsay's macabre and clever re-invention of the serial killer genre, the "hero" is a blood spatter expert for the Miami Police Department by day, and a hunter of sick predators by night—and who really enjoys his night gig.
Dexter by Design (Doubleday, $25.00) finds him newly married and settling into domestic life with surprising ease—until a bloody performance artist begins leaving displays all over Miami. And when Dexter's cop sister is nearly killed by a suspect, Dexter finds he has at least one real emotion—rage.
Lindsay uses Dexter's double life to examine the question—what is more important, what we think or what we do? What makes us moral, our thoughts or our actions? Dexter is so convinced he is a sociopath, for instance, that he thinks it's proof of his cold cold heart, that he only pretends to care about things noman cares about, like his new bride's selection of wedding décor.
While the Showtime series is actually better than the books at this point—and has gone in enough slightly different directions that it's confusing to read the books while the show is in mid-season—Lindsay's extremely clever take on what was becoming a moribund genre is still macbre fun—and subversively moral.
The Hunted by Brian Haig
Haig takes a break from his superb series about wisecracking JAG lawyer Sean Drummond to deliver an excellent—and incredibly informative—thriller that gives the most entertaining and easiest to understand explanation I've read yet on how Russia went from Communism to near anarchy to the current thugocracy which openly supports Iranian aggression.
In The Hunted, (Grand Central, $25.99) Haig tells the story of Alex Konevitch, a Russian entrepreneur who positioned himself during Gorbachev's reforms to become a business titan in a coming free market. A seemingly well-connected backer of Boris Yeltsin, Alex is kidnapped and tortured by the former-KGB thugs who formed the Russian mob, looted the country, and stole companies from people like Konevitch while Yeltsin partied like it was 1999.
Unlike most of would-be capitalists in Russia, Konevitch puts up a fight; and when he and his beautiful wife are forced to flee to America for safety in the Clinton years, they are not yet safe. They are forced to do legal battle with an ambitious FBI director who actually believes Konevitch is the criminal and that the mafya-controlled Russian security forces will actually help in the fight against the Russian mob if The U.S. turns Konevitch over to them.
The Hunted is based on the amazing true story of Alex Konanykhin, though Haig condenses the real-life Alex's decades-long struggle for dramatic purposes. This is a superb and informative thriller that will have freedom loving audiences cheering for an unusual and very appealing underdog.