Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Night Ranger, by Alex Berenson

The Night Ranger is the latest John Wells novel by Alex Berenson.  Instead of Aghanistan and the Middle East, this time the action takes place in Africa, specifically Kenya and Somalia.

Alex Berenson is one of the rare authors who seem to get better and better each time out.  This book is exceptionally well-researched.  I felt like I was in Africa.  The complexities of both everyday life and the political situation in Africa were clearly conveyed while also being smoothly integrated into the story.

John Wells is one of my favorite action characters.  As it says in the book, “John Wells is awfully simple and awfully complicated.”  He is not superhuman, bullets don’t bounce off him and he makes mistakes.  He also makes choices that aren’t always the right or moral ones, but he questions those decisions himself and has to bear the consequences.  He feels more “real” than just about any action character I can think of.

Berenson also makes great use of Wells’ former CIA bosses (Shafer and Duto) and his complicated relationship with them and their complicated relationship with each other.  The conversations between Shafer and Duto highlight the political considerations that take place and the dichotomy between loyalty and callousness.  With limited page time, these characters are very well fleshed out.  

The plot and the action here are also top-notch.  The plot moves forward steadily, punctuated with great action sequences combining both brute force and the latest in military technology.  Berenson does a good job of conveying the limitations of both.  You are left guessing as to what’s really going on and none of the characters are guaranteed to be safe.  Some guesses may be right, but nothing is certain until the last page.  

Exciting plot and action with real depth both in the locale descriptions and the characters make for a page-turning thriller.  Alex Berenson is at the top of my must-read list and The Night Ranger cements that status.  Highly recommended.