Sunday, February 22, 2015

Masters of Thrill

Last Days of the Condor – James Grady (Tor/Forge)

Just because you think someone is out to get you, doesn’t mean you’re paranoid. As Condor lowers himself deeper and deeper into his own mind, he is convinced that he is a target. The highly trained CIA operative is now reduced to sorting through discarded books and materials deep in the bowels of the Library of Congress and in those sorting he sees a pattern emerge.

In Last Days of the Condor James Grady continues the story he started 40 years ago with Six Days of the Condor, which was pared down 72 hours for the Robert Redford film Three Days of the Condor. Condor has been deemed a danger to not only himself, but possibly the country he fought to protect and now struggles to keep a tenuous grasp on reality through the haze of a shelf full of psychotropic drugs. When limboed agent charged with keeping track of the Condor’s day to day activities is found dead and crucified, his hands nailed to the Condor’s fireplace mantle with kitchen knives, he becomes a moving target.

Utilizing all the skills his aging body will allow and mustering together resources and people along the way, Condor struggles with not only the forces arrayed against him, but also his own inner demons to stay one step ahead. This thriller features a unique author’s voice matched with a steady, high velocity pace that will keep the pages moving with blinding speed.

Twelve Days – A John Wells Novel – Alex Berenson (Putnam Books)

The usual suspects are all present and accounted for; John Wells the former CIA operative, now freelance, his former CIA bosses Ellis Shafer and Vinnie Duto (now, oddly a Senator from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.) The clock is ticking, with a seemingly much more realistic variation of the TV show 24, stretched out to 288 hours, hence the title Twelve Days, for the trio to cut through the false flag plot, and save the United States. Easy, right?

The difficulty for those who (like me) haven’t read the set up book, Alex Berenson’s The Counterfeit Agent, you’ll have to wade through a pretty lengthy first section of the book to be brought up to speed on what’s going on and how we got here in the first place. It seems out of place to find Wells getting some sleep at a Washington, DC hotel before charging back out into to a high speed trot around the globe to muster new details in the race to save the country.

I am a fan of Berenson and the Wells character, but this one left me wondering if there wasn’t one truly great story hidden in the midst of, and unnecessarily stretched out over these two books.

Robert Ludlum’s The Geneva Strategy – A Covert One Novel – Jamie Freveletti (Grand Central Publishing)

Robert Ludlum was not only a master thriller writer, but also remained ahead of the cutting edge with the technology and materiel that his character used in the course of his novels. So it seems perfectly natural that the ongoing series that he spawned that have been continued by a group of carefully selected authors would strive to remain on the leading edge with the storylines they create.

Rapidly advancing drone technology paired with chemical weapons is a perfect fit for the latest entry in the Covert One series, The Geneva Strategy, penned by Jamie Freveletti. Once again Jon Smith has to wade through mysteries and pull together the pieces in a race to save the world.

In one night a seemingly disparate group of high profile folks suddenly disappear under mysterious circumstances. Smith leaving a high profile Georgetown gathering for a Chinese biotech guru, recently smuggled out of that country, is confronted by a group of thugs he logically confuses with agents from Beijing. Only later does he connect the dots that he may have been among the list of kidnapping targets.

Now Smith has to track down who is behind the abductions and recover one of the victims in particular; Nick Rendell, a high tech wiz who possesses the passwords to seize control of the U. S. Army drone fleet that could rain terror on targets all over the globe. A strikingly ambitious plot, delivered with Ludlum flare.


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