Wells, with his former CIA bosses Ellis Shafer and Vinnie Duto, has uncovered a staggering plot, a false-flag operation to convince the President to attack Iran. But they have no hard evidence, and no one at Langley or the White House will listen.
Now the President has set a deadline for Iran to give up its nuclear program, and the mullahs in Tehran—furious and frightened—have responded with a deadly terrorist attack. Wells, Shafer, and Duto know they have only twelve days to find the proof they need. They fan out, from Switzerland to Saudi Arabia, Israel to Russia, desperately trying to tease out the clues in their possession. Meanwhile, the United States is moving soldiers and Marines to Iran’s border. And Iran has mobilized its own squad of suicide bombers.
And as the days tick by and the obstacles mount, they realize that everything they do may not be enough…
Twelve Days is the second part of the two-part John Wells story that began with The Counterfeit Agent and it offers a thrilling conclusion to the story. Twelve Days is literally a ticking clock story. The president has given Iran an ultimatum and will go to war in 12 days, which is how much time John Wells has to prove that the United States is being baited into war against Iran by a third party.
John Wells has always been a bit of an outsider character, but he has never been on his own more than he has in this book. The administration is committed to war if its demands are not met and is not willing to believe that it has been duped. Ousted former CIA director and current Senator Duto doesn’t have the resources and authority he formerly had and eventually burns whatever bridges with the administration he has left. Ellis Schafer is still inside the CIA but is increasingly marginalized by new leadership and is eventually fighting for his freedom if not his life.
Duto and Schafer, still one of the best odd-couple, angel/devil on the shoulder pairings in literature, are able to provide Wells some assistance, but he is left largely to his own devices and has to cash in every chit he has acquired over the years. Twelve Days once again takes John Wells all over the world from England to Russia to Israel, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. The fights, chases, and conflicts are the equal of any contemporary thriller writers, but there is an added sense of realism, both physical and moral, to an aging hero whose physical limitations not only affect strategy, but linger in a realistic way. While not disabling, they force adjustments which deepen the respect for John Wells.
Alex Berenson also has a unique skill for creating realistic set pieces that illustrate the heightening tensions in the main plot. From a missile strike on a commercial airliner to a drone strike against terror leaders, he creates characters and scenarios that are realistic, exciting and crucial to raising the stakes of the story.
Reading the series in order is not necessary, although helpful in seeing the growth of the main characters and their relationship to one another. Twelve Days could technically be read alone as the backstory is recapped, but is better read together with the previous book, The Counterfeit Agent, which begins the events which conclude in this book.
Berenson continues at the top of his game with John Wells Twelve Days that is sure to please long-time fans and hopefully bring new ones to this great thriller series.
I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book.