Alex Berenson excels in creating a meticulously plotted novel in which his protagonist, John Wells, is not only memorable for his skills but also for the man he turned out to be. He is given well-known human frailties, makes mistakes and occasionally finds himself in the middle of sticky situations but always manages to come out with only minor scratches and the same driving force he went in with. The writer’s portrayal of Afghanistan, its people, their cultures and politics and their country side in general goes a long way in creating an atmosphere in this novel.
The story opens when CIA headquarters in Afghanistan are blown up by a suicide bomber, killing all the top staff. The ensuing investigation uncovers the bomber’s identity to be a trusted Afghani worker. John Wells is summoned to oversee how this person could have slipped by security and to flush out any other sleeper agents that may have infiltrated their ranks. Early on in the investigation, rumours circulate that there are possibly some U.S. soldiers that have been lured into the drug smuggling trade and their actions may have compromised security. His undercover role leads him to the Kandahar Air base and a team of Delta Special Force soldiers. When the renegade soldiers and the Taliban find out there is an investigator hot on their trail, John soon find himself with a big target on his back and no place to hide.
The writing is fast-paced with a thin thread of humour throughout. Although well-crafted the story wasn’t as gripping or as captivating as in the past. Unfortunately the sub-plot did little to hype the suspense and was quickly lost in the background but nevertheless there are no signs that this series is running out of steam.