The novel begins shortly after 9 11 on the Shamal plain north of Kabul Wells is leading a group of Taliban and al Qaeda fighters into a trap, but at the same time he must avoid American F 15 bombers circling overhead At the same time Jennifer Exley, Wells CIA handler is aboard the USS Starker off the coast of Virginia waiting to interrogate another American who has flipped to the Taliban Her goal is to learn about Jalal, Wells Islamic name as she has not heard from him in two years From this point on the novel evolves into a suspenseful story that is stunning in detail.
Berenson creates fascinating characters which are true to life Omar Khadri, travels freely in the United States and has set up a number of hidden cells throughout the country Farouk Kahn, a physicist who has possessed enough nuclear material to create a dirty bomb Tourik Durant, a graduate student studying micro biology at McGill University in Montreal is developing a strain of Y pestis to unleash pneumonic plague We are also presented with various CIA characters apart from Exley Ellis Shafer and Vincent Duto who disagree over Wells loyalty.
The author exhibits excellent command of historical events Whether discussing operations in Afghanistan or the United States, the actions taken by his characters ring true Whether describing the rendition of suspected terrorists and their subsequent interrogation, Berenson strikes an accurate chord He integrates historical nuances of the war, particularly the internal factions within al Qaeda, the role of the U.
S military, and the attitude of American politicians His discussion of Osama Bin Ladin, the actions of the Pashtun tribes, the Northern Alliance, and the Taliban are accurate and provide the reader a history lesson while they become immersed in the plot surrounding Wells Legitimate historical figures permeate the storyline ranging from Ayman al Zawaheri, al Qaeda s number two person to A.
K Kahn, the Pakistani nuclear scientist who exports his expertise.
Berenson s opposition to American Iraqi policy is apparent Throughout the book we are privy to his feelings about torture and other techniques employed to gain information from prisoners As we read on American errors in Afghanistan become clear as the Bush administration drops the ball and invades Iraq under false pretenses Overall, Berenson has created a credible scenario with a new type of character John Wells believes he has failed his country by not warning his handlers about 9 11 and other events, and wants to make sure he does not fail again.
As a side bar to Berenson s first effort, the New York Times reporter earned the Edgar Award for A FAITHFUL SPY and has written a number of sequels developing the character of John Wells in a number of interesting ways.
The horrific events of 9 11 have changed the espionage thriller genre and new authors with huge followings have taken up the war on terror Among these popular authors is Alex Berenson He brilliantly introduces readers to John Wells, a CIA operative who has given up his family, parents, wife, and son to successfully infiltrate al Qaeda Both his agency and the terrorists are wary of him He has spent 10 years proving himself to UBL and al Zawahiri in the desolate plateaus of Pakistan and in the bitter Chechen plains He has even converted to Islam, but some of the jhadi still don t fully trust the American who they know as Jalal His own agency doubts him since he didn t stop the 9 11 attacksHe never said how he infiltrated al Qaeda and Exley never asked, since the answer no doubt included violations of agency regulations and U S law Langley didn t know what to do with Wells Wells was simply trying to prove himself to al Qaeda while sending back what he could about the group s structure and plansMy heart missed a beat or two when Wells killed five of his men so he could give information to a Special Force commander.
But the narrative became intriguing when a little girl spots the fighter jets coming towards the United airliner The terror of the people on the plane was palpable Explosions happen in California Are these diversions or a prelude for THE attack that will dwarf the events of 9 11 that al Zawahiri spoke of when Wells met him and two other men in Pakistan Is that why he is being sent to America Does he have enough information to pass onto Langley to stop Khadi and the Qaeda sleepers already in America He turns to Jennifer Exley, his handler and the only one who still believes in him to help him stop two heinous plans.
Berenson gets 5 stars for inventing The Faithful Spy, John Wells Who is he really faithful to Allah, al Qaeda, his country The twists and turns of the great attacks on the U.
S are gripping and heart stopping But the romantic Wells Exley subplot was silly and turned me off and the epilogue was unsatisfactory for me to take a star of my rating Despite these complaints, I look forward to reading Berenson s sopho entry of the John Wells Series.
John Wells Penetrates Al Qaeda For Ten Years Until Only CIA Handler Jennifer Exley Believes He Is Still True Blue Omar Khadri, Malicious Mastermind, Plots Major Strike In States, Orders Well In From The Cold Tarik Durant, Abusive Husband In Montreal, Concocts In Basement Lab Neither Khadri, Still Suspicious, Nor Exley, Romantically Intrigued, Knows What To Expect Next Hang in there if you like this first book in the John Wells series, you will love the 2nd book I am currently in the 3rd book of John Wells series, and really enjoyed Mr Berenson s writing style, the characters development, and the plots It would a treat for Vince Flynn s fans, including myself.
This book started off somewhat interesting, including characters caught between the need for intelligence and the rights of suspects post 9 11 I suspected I d disagree with it politically but hoped it would be a good read anyway Halfway through, though, it turned from political thriller into a bad romance novel in which I hoped the protagonist and his handler love interest would never meet again She continued to believe in him despite serious questions within the CIA and refused to pull him in, becausetheirloveissotrue Their romantic heart to heart, which lead to her absolute faith in him, consisted of her telling him about how she lost her virginity to a biker at a party Yeah But because she trusts him, he is able to single handedly save the day I can t believe I finished the advanced reader Worst book I ve read in years.
Al Qaeda from the inside out a thriller filled with suspenseJohn Wells is the only CIA operative ever to succeed in infiltrating Al Qaeda Now, after a decade undercover in Afghanistan and Chechnya, he finally appears to have gained the confidence of the group s top leaders Summoned to an audience with Ayman al Zawahiri, Wells is dispatched to the USA to play a key role in a terrorist plot to rival 9 11.
As the story unfolds, we learn that Wells is no longer trusted by the CIA with the exception of his handler, Jennifer Exley, with whom he is in love Nor is he trusted by the brilliant Al Qaeda agent to whom he has been assigned, known to him only as Omar Khadri Wells must maneuver between these two poles of suspicion, all the while fighting to survive, preserving his relationship with Exley, and exploring the depths of the Islamic faith he adopted in Afghanistan.
The Faithful Spy has all the elements of a best selling thriller, and so it was An Edgar Award winner when it was published in 2006, the book rose to 1 on the Times paperback bestseller list It was followed by four novels, all of them featuring John Wells, several of them bestsellers in their own right.
Alex Berenson was an investigative reporter for than a decade for The New York Times, serving for nearly a year in Iraq but focusing largely on business issues Since last year, he has been working full time as a novelist Berenson is not yet 40, so we can look forward to many adventures with John Wells From www.
com Not a bad spy thriller certainly relevant today One thing the story shows quite clearly is how bureaucrats with their CYA mentality have a lot of trouble with the terrorist threat Nothing is ever certain chances have to be taken.
There s a good, balanced view of religion throughout the book Prejudices are shown from both sides.
My rating 3 terrorists John Wells is a complicated man, a man of irony Living in Afghanistan and Pakistan with tribal members, a Muslim convert, absent father, and American, all make for an interesting plot The first was fantastic, but slowed down toward the end Still, it was a fun read.
I gave up on excellent spy novels years ago when my taste for LeCarre could not be satisfied with anyone else So I decided to take a risk with Alex Berenson s The Faithful Spy If nothing else, this novel has restored my faith in the genre as relevant, as vital, and as a vehicle for truly good writing I am convinced that Alex Berenson is every bit as good as the best of those who write fiction thrillers I now have to check out other authors who write contemporary spy books but not right away I have 10 years of John Wells to catch up on And I will.
His recurring challenge in this book is his faith for Americans, against the ranks of al Qaeda, for Islam and the Koran After he receives a mission he leaves for America, not knowing what he ll do, but returns to Montana his home and discovers everything he left behind gone, mother dead, wife moved on, forbidden to see his son Berenson devotes the proper amount of time and energy into developing this aspect of Wells we feel for him how much he s sacrificed to do what he s done, how much will go unappreciated by the suits in Langley at the CIA.
The plot gets going late into the story Wells, not quite trusted by his handler, is sent to and fro to check to see if he s who he said he was He connects back up with his handler at the CIA, the predictable and unnecessary love interest element, and then walks into a situation he doesn t understand He s not to be an instrument of a plot, merely a vector, someone who starts a catastrophe he can t stop There s biowarfare and conventional bombs and all sorts of scary things out there Dying, toward the end of the story, he doesn t let death stand in his way He ends successful It s how we want to think of our spies Working against internal and external adversity, making the right things happen even after wading through the intelligence bureaucracy The CIA director is a laughable caricature in this first book, a bit painful in conception The subsequent books feel rushed and smaller by comparison Berenson feels like he took his time with this first storyand he got the main details right about John Wells Well worth the read.