Arguably good story-telling -- provided you are the kind of reader who wants your "good guys" to be so stupid and so professionally incompetent that they end up being fodder for an omniscient, virtually omnipotent pair of terrorists.
On the other hand, if you are more realistically inclined, you will find the gun-fodder characters in this book to be insults to the professions they purport to represent.
Read what follows, only if you do not plan to read the book.
As other reviewers have pointed out, the novel's organizing theme is absurd.
A group of wealthy business CEOs approach a "maybe" CIA official to guide them in financing a plan to eliminate Islamic terrorism by impeding its access to money. Inexplicably included in this group of good guys is an abrasive, loud-mouthed, and obviously untrustworthy journalist, who periodically threatens to blab the arrangement to the public.
COONTS' CURIOUS IGNORANCE OF THE PROFESSIONS HE DESCRIBES
Since I come from a parallel occupation, the egregious incompetence of the book's CIA and Special Operations personnel irritated me. Here is a sample selection:
Two Special Ops counter-assassins are themselves assassinated because they are too obtuse to take precautions against being followed after eliminating a terrorist in his homeland. One of these operatives is so witless that he doesn't bother to warn his girlfriend that she might become a target for the pursuing jihadists.
Similarly, a Special Operations sniper team shoots a target terrorist (who is visiting a jihadist village), while knowingly being observed by an enemy counter-sniper, whose movements they lose track off during their hit.
After completing the assassination (and unrealistically re-finding the counter-sniper), the pair blows up their 50-caliber rifle, rather than pack it out. Though I can see circumstances in which that might be necessary, Coonts' explanation does not justify losing the range advantage that the supreme sniper weapon would have given the pair as they try to outrun the target's jihadist "brothers."
Professionally worse, the sniper team inexplicably splits up during the villagers' pursuit. And one of them is too incompetent to recognize that the point man for the pursuers, whom he lets go by him, will double back to kill him, after he engages the rest of the villager group. The other of the sniper team is too far away to prevent his death.
In a similar "how stupid can one get" vein, four Special Operations folk are assigned to protect a house, which they know to be the subject of a coming jihadist attack. Two of these gems go to sleep in the hay loft of a barn, without first setting up a perimeter warning system. Both are easily killed. One of their comrades, sensing that something wrong is afoot, dumbly goes into the barn through the main door. Natural selection has no empathy for him, either.
First-person protagonist, Tommy Carmellini, is a mediocrity of such proportion that one wonders how ex-Admiral CIA operative, Jake Grafton, could possibly consider him to be up to performing the ridiculously difficult tasks that he is assigned. Even one of the book's main characters tells Grafton what an incompetent Tommy is.
Carmellini, for example -- in addition to getting shot a couple of times because he is obtusely unaware of his surroundings -- shoots an innocent man. Though assigned to protect a houseful of people, he apparently does not recognize that one of these same people might trip over the booby trap bottle he plants on the stairway. When he hears the person trip over the bottle, Tommy blasts him to death. The blast-ee turns out to be the chauffeur for one the main characters.
Jake Grafton, himself, is such an arguable bonehead that he puts some of the people he is supposed to protect inside a multi-story apartment house that even the most ignorant of readers would recognize can't be protected. What happens next is so ridiculously improbable that experienced military and police will cringe in reading it.
COONTS EVEN SCREWS UP "ARREST" PROTOCOLS
Grafton tells Tommy Carmellini to make sure that driver for the four-man team of jihadists who attack the indefensible apartment house is captured.
Coonts, of course, doesn't tell us how Tommy is supposed to kill the four-man team (who are inside the building) and catch the driver (who is on the street outside the building) at the same time.
Tommy brilliantly dashes out onto the street, dives headfirst into the driver's car, seizes the car keys from the ignition with one hand, and beats up the driver with the other elbow. (I've been in similar car-seizing situations, and it doesn't go the way that Coonts describes.)
Tommy then leaves the driver unconscious, but unsecured. Naturally, when Tommy leaves to deal with the four-man team of killers inside the building, the driver he was supposed to capture runs away.
EVEN THE CIVILIANS IN THE NOVEL ARE UNBELIEVABLY AIR-HEADED
Author Coonts is no better on the non-professionals' side of the equation.
The anti-terrorist CEOs that Grafton leads are too brain-dead to take precautions against being murdered, even after repeated warnings. They are "offed" one-by-one in a tedious exposition of the Darwinian principle of "survival of the fittest" by "elimination of the stupidest."
For example, after his colleagues are murdered one by one of, one of this CEO group eventually decides that he does need two body guards. But he foolishly rides around in an "unhardened" limousine that he apparently left parked somewhere where bad guys could plant a bomb on it. Guess what happens.
And Grafton's own CIA-recruited Arab anti-terrorists are equally careless. One is assigned to give poison to a terror-plotting imam. He does, but he foolishly allows some of the imam's followers see him dispose of the poison bottle in a dumpster just outside the spiritual center. Oops.
Coonts, not understanding how professionals actually interview and interrogate, inserts numerous purposeless conversations in the book. These often revolve around suspected double-agent "Marissa." Carmellini and Grafton both have aggravatingly airy conversations with her that lead nowhere. The talks aren't even interesting for the irrelevant content that Coonts does include in them.
The author apparently adopted this "nothing happens" conversational style, so as to preserves Marissa's mystery to the end. But, given the law enforcement and anti-terrorist nature of the plot, real professionals would never have let Marissa skate untouched for so many pages.
UNBELIEVABLE BAD GUYS
There are only two central bad guys. This apparently unsupported pair manages to put the entire American intelligence and counter-terrorism elite on the defensive.
The shadowy one of the two operates independently and knows everything that is going on, even inside the American intelligence community. He supervises a non-jihadist mercenary killer, who also knows more than anyone could know and, thanks to the incompetence of his targets, has no trouble introducing numerous folk to the Great Beyond.
IF YOU CAN SUSPEND DISBELIEF, YOU MIGHT LIKE THIS BOOK -- OTHERWISE AVOID IT
The novel's preposterous plot and professionally disrespectful characterizations of counter-terrorism professionals trivialize painfully "real" reality.
That's not my cup of tea. But it might be yours. Whatever Coonts' foibles are (when it comes to unrealistic depictions) he is a good story-teller.