Auntie M has learned that by reviewing books sent by a publisher, instead of choosing them for herself, she is forced to read novels she ordinarily wouldn’t–and in the process, she is reminded that a well-written story will capture the reader, regardless of the subject.
Two action thrillers, available this month in paperback from Harper, will certainly appeal to the masculine side of readership, but there are plenty of female readers who will enjoy learning of the intricacies of the world of intelligence, politics, and the secrets, real and imagined, of government.
Dale Brown’s A Time for Patriots revolves in a world in the near future too easily envisioned: A crippling recession in the US leads to a rise of armed citizens protecting themselves. One group calls itself the Knights of the True Republic, home-grown terrorists who ambush a SWAT team and steal radioactive materials, leading to a nation-wide event with devastating effects. When they detonate a dirty bomb in Reno, Nevada, the state’s Civil Air Patrol is caught on a rescue mission in a no-fly zone. Tensions escalate, involving so many government agencies the author has a listing of acronyms and weapons at the opening of the book to guide the reader through the action to follow.
Brown’s hero is retired Air Force Lt.-Col. Patrick McLanahan, featured previously in multiple books that follow his career. Along with McLanahan’s son, Brad, and a roster of volunteers, they rise to the occasion of unearthing a major double-cross, leading to the President’s decision to send American-manned robots to aid the CAP crew, and a huge aircraft called the Skytrain: “Thanks to its advanced engines and mission-adaptive wing technology, with which tiny computer-controlled micro-acuators could make almost the entire fuselage and wing skin a lift or drag device, the huge aircraft could fly close to the speed of sound at gross weight, as well as half as slow as any other aircraft of its size.”
Add in magnificent but believable robots, and nanotransponders, which, when swallowed, allow the host’s position to be tracked at all times, and you have the stuff of the imagination that is not too far in the future to be out of question. Of course, the McLanahans, father and son, and members of their team are at the heart of the drama, bringing human feelings, actions and emotions to round out the action.
A former US Air Force Captain, Brown is a current mission pilot in the Civil Air Patrol, and provides accurate information and descriptions of the workings of this group who rise to the task of protecting Americans everywhere.
The second thriller tells a different but equally compelling story. KBL: Kill Bin Laden is described as a “novel based on true events,” and it’s obvious that John Weisman, with books on both The New York Times nonfiction and fiction bestseller lists, is heavily steeped in the worlds of the intelligence agents and special forces soldiers who brought Usama Bin Laden to justice. The front of the book includes maps and photographs from the Department of Defense showing the location of Bin Laden’s Abbottobad compound with a schematic of its interior, compounding the feel of reality to the story about to be told.
What could have been a dry retelling of the events leading up to the capture of America’s most wanted criminal comes alive through Weisman’s capable narrative using the details of the lives of those most closely involved in the final mission: the SEALs of Team 6, whose equipment could fill a twenty-foot dry weight container and who are trained to kill and then leave that behind them and return to wives and children; CIA Directors and assistants stationed in Pakistan; rangers, pilots, operatives, and most importantly, Charlie Becker.
Becker, a retired US Army Airborne Ranger, had his legs and most fingers blown off by an Iraqi suicide bomber. He used his over-five years rehabilitation to become fluent in Urdu and Pashto and understands Arabic. Becker is currently connected to the Special Activities Division of the CIA. His “special activities” include leaving his fancy prostheses in a locker in Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. It means living outside that compound in a cardboard shelter and practicing getting around on a padded furniture dolly built from materials scrounged in Pakistan for weeks, eating the diet of a poor Pakistani, bathing only occasionally, and reciting passionately the prayers of the Salafist Jihadi until he can pass himself off as a beggar in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Becker becomes the eyes and ears of the CIA on the ground, patrolling the city on his dolly and watching a CIA safehouse, while monitoring GZ: Ground Zero, a probable home to UBL.
As the mission rehearsal and details are being worked out, back in Washington, politics are at play in the decision to mount the offensive and when it should occur. This is recent history made to come alive in a most readable and compelling manner.
It doesn’t matter that the reader knows the outcome of the mission; indeed, the Prologue contains a scene showing Bin Laden’s corpse being viewed in a body bag. What matters is the journey taken to annihilate a madman. As Weisman has Charlie Becker know in his heart, ” … there are some people on this earth who just deserve to die.”
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