Rogue elements or individuals within America's governmental law enforcement agencies have always been a hallmark of many thriller and mystery novelists. For example, Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy, just to name two, have often used rogue CIA operatives as part of their many novels and to great effect. In the past, the Cold War provided the backdrop for such operations. With the theoretical end of the Cold War, there was concern that like black and white movies, the times had passed such topics by. Now, in what is sure to be a flood of such novels, Muslim fanaticism and the global war on terror are replacing the Cold War as a fictional backdrop. Rogue elements in the CIA in fiction along with the occasional glimpses through Congressional hearings in real life makes this novel highly believable.
Somewhere in America, an Al-Queada terrorist cell has a rocket launcher and some missiles for it. With the death of Osama Bin Laden (treated as fact), Al-Queada has reconstituted itself under new leadership and become a smaller, more efficient terrorist organization. They have learned the ultimate lesson of the terrorist attacks-America was hurt much worse by the economic impact of such actions than by the casualty toll. The terrorists release videotape to the major networks detailing their threat to fire missiles somewhere in the United States. They promise to attack schools, shopping centers, etc. to make the point again that one is ever safe.
Panic grips the nation exacerbated by the twenty four hour seven day a week cable news coverage of the threat. Schools, business, shopping centers, etc. begin to close as the nation's commerce grinds to a halt. For Mark Beamon, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Phoenix Office, the situation is doubly frustrating. Not only is this not his case and that has been made clear by his superiors, he has massive personal problems of his own.
Mark is less than happy with his current role in the FBI. As detailed in the earlier three novels of this series character, Mark Beamon is a loner and does not play well with others. He certainly does not really fit into the model of what an agent is in the currently politically correct version of today's FBI. He eschews office politics and relies on results. About to be fired, arrested and imprisoned for his previous actions, the incoming President saved him from himself. Thanks to having a friend on the White House Staff, he was instead sent to dead-end his career in charge of the Phoenix office. Management is not his thing and as the ongoing office audit makes clear, his talents are better suited to working cases, not people.
Because of his connections to other agents from past cases, Mark begins to get separate but important pieces of information that he is not supposed to have access to. He sees a totally different track to the case and his ideas conflict with his superior's public statements. He begins to suspect that the terrorists have links to organized crime and wonders why the CIA isn't telling all they know. Soon his suspicions prove correct as a fellow agent and long time friend is executed while both are on an undercover operation. Allowed to survive, Mark Beamon begins to work the case from deep undercover using any resources and methods necessary to find not only the rocket launcher but also those responsible inside and outside of government.
This is an extremely complicated novel, which in my summary, I have failed to do justice to. As the really good novels do, it works on many levels with puzzles within puzzles. The players are extremely complicated and multi-dimensional and there are a large number of plot twists. The action is frequently intense and the novel moves forward at a steady clip.
One also has to wonder just how much of this novel is actual fact and not conjecture. Tom Clancy took an active involvement in this author's career from the early stages including helping him get his first novel published titled "Rising Phoenix." Tom Clancy has long been known for his access to highly classified government information and sources and is said to have introduced Kyle Mills to many of the same information resources. One often gets the feeling in reading his novels that Kyle Mills barely fictionalizes many important details. If true in this case, he is providing some very interesting material on the war in terrorism in this very enjoyable thriller.