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The Shadow Patrol [Hardcover]

Alex Berenson
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Feb. 21 2012 A John Wells Novel

In 2009, the CIA's Kabul Station fell for a source who promised to lead it to Bin Laden, but instead he blew himself up, taking the station's most senior officers with him. Now, more than two years later, the station is still floundering, agents are dying, and at Langley the CIA's chiefs wonder if the unthinkable has happened, if somehow the Taliban has infiltrated the station.

When they ask John Wells to investigate, he reluctantly agrees to return to the country where his career as an undercover operative began. But there, he finds a vipers' nest of hostility and mistrust-and clues that hint at a drug-trafficking operation involving the Agency, the military, and the Taliban. Americans are dying, and an American is responsible. And only John Wells stands in his way . . . for now.

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“Berenson rises above the thriller genre.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“The authenticity Berenson brings to his ripped-from-the-headlines stories makes them seem as vividly real and scary as nonfiction or the nightly news.”—Booklist
“Wells is a refreshing thriller hero, sort of the anti–Jack Bauer.”—St. Petersburg Times
“Superbly paced action sequences and the kind of background that suggests a better-than-average understanding of what soldiers on the ground actually see in Afghanistan.”—Kirkus Reviews

“The book never lets up as it exposes the terrors and boredom of war on the front lines.”—Providence Journal
--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

About the Author

Alex Berenson’s novels have been hailed as “heart-stopping” (USA Today), “terrifying” (The New York Times Book Review), and in the case of The Faithful Spy, “one of the best spy stories ever told” (The Wall Street Journal). The reason is not only their brilliant plotting and some of the best characters in modern suspense fiction, but Berenson’s cutting-edge examination of the very real dangers confronting us. They’re not only “superbly crafted” (Kirkus Reviews), they’re about the way we live now.
         As a reporter for The New York Times, Alex Berenson covered topics ranging from the occupation of Iraq to the flooding of New Orleans to the financial crimes of Bernie Madoff. His previous novels include The Faithful Spy, winner of the Edgar Award; The Ghost War; The Silent Man; The Midnight House; and The Secret Soldier. Berenson lives in New York City.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Going Strong June 30 2012
By Toni Osborne TOP 100 REVIEWER
Book 6, in the John Wells series

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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars  141 reviews
67 of 69 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Satisfying -- But A Few Notches Below The Early Books In This Series! Jan. 1 2012
By Bobbewig - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
In The Shadow Patrol, John Wells is again asked to serve as a freelance troubleshooter for the CIA, his former employer. The basis of the plot revolves around Wells going undercover in Afghanistan to investigate if somehow the Taliban has infiltrated the Kabul station. Once there, Wells enters a web of mistrust and uncovers clues that suggest that a drug trafficking operation is in effect that involves the agency, the military and the Taliban. As a result of the operation, American soldiers are dying -- and only Wells stands in the way of those responsible.

Similar to the first five books in Berenson's John Wells series, The Shadow Patrol is entertaining and well-researched. However, relative to the other books, The Shadow Patrol is not quite as well-plotted, nor is it as much of a page-turner. Further on a comparative basis, The Shadow Patrol falls somewhat short in terms of dimensionalizing his main character and particularly his supportive characters; to the point that readers that have not read any of this author's previous books might feel that they don't know the characters as well as they would have liked in order to care more about them. Additionally, the plot tends to drag too much at various times during the middle of the book.

Despite these comparative flaws The Shadow Patrol is a worthwhile read and one that I think espionage/spy genre readers will enjoy. I'd suggest, however, that before reading The Shadow Patrol new readers to the series begin with The Faithful Spy and at least one of the other John Wells books to enhance their understanding and appreciation of the characters they will meet in this book.
35 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reminiscent of Nelson DeMille's military novels Dec 26 2011
By Brian Baker - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
John Wells, Alex Berenson's "Reluctant Spy", is back again in this novel that successfully mixes genres.

Ever since leaving the CIA, Wells has found himself working more as a freelancing troubleshooter than a spy, last time for the Saudi royal family, this time for his old bosses at the Agency.

An agency op in Afghanistan goes badly wrong, leaving several case officers dead and the resident office in an administrative shambles. An army Stryker unit - a platoon-sized outfit of mechanized infantry - is involved in moving drugs from Afghan Taliban suppliers through to the States, with the help of a couple of Delta snipers and another American who seems to have his own agenda.

Wells is called on to go to Afghanistan as an "unofficial" representative of his old CIA boss Vinnie Duto to assess the effectiveness of the resident office as a viable force, and in doing so he stumbles onto the problems arising from the disaster that wiped out so many of the local Agency operatives.

How this evolves, and Well's actions in addressing these problems, form the crux of the story.

Berenson weaves an intricate and involving story here that blends the espionage and military genres masterfully. In many ways this book is evocative of the military novels of Nelson DeMille - particularly "The General's Daughter" - though the crimes at its heart are of a very different nature. The characters are well-realized and three-dimensional; it's well-plotted; and I found it to be thoroughly enjoyable. In other words, what we've come to expect from Berenson.

A very solid four stars; maybe 4 .
23 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written but with no sense of urgency Dec 27 2011
By tom4416 - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
While the subject of this novel is troubling - drug trafficking by US troops - it never reaches a fever pitch of excitement. Okay, soldiers have been dealing in the black market since WWI albeit not with sixteen kilos of heroin but this is not an earth threatening issue and that's the problem with this novel, the topic is too mundane for a novel. Would be a great expose if it was a true story but it seems highly unlikely the government would dispatch a high powered operative like Wells to deal with this type problem.

Berenson writes with his usual flair, the dialogue is enthralling and the book is nicely paced but it left me feeling like the climax never developed. Espionage novels should deal with huge issues like nuclear weapons, terrorists attacks, biological threats, etc.. This one never gets there and reads like a manuscript that may have been sitting in the drawer for a while and got pulled out so the author could submit something to their publisher on time.

If this was a $1 Kindle book from a first time author, I'd give it four stars and say the author had a future with better developed plot and story lines. Since it's from an established author who has already proven he can write five star novels, it gets only a passing grade.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not the quality of the preceding books Feb. 26 2012
By Dsdjd - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book was the least interesting of the series. The sub-plots didn't fit together well. During most of the book I lost track of how the antagonist even fit into the story. It just all seemed too forced. I never felt my heart rate pick up, or really wondering about the resolution of the problem. I sort of didn't care if the bad guys won. All the preceding books were excellent..I was disappointed in this one.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top-Notch -- Satisfying and Engaging!! May 20 2012
By Mike P. - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Alex Berenson has hit another home run in this latest Jonathan Wells adventure. Berenson manages to keep the aging spy turned free agaent just as interesting as always -- this time, it's back to Afghanistan for another conspiracy and action thriller.

In a plot turn straight from the real life, an agency operation in Afghanistan goes wrong, leaving several CIA case officers dead and the station in administrative chasos. A a platoon-sized outfit of mechanized infantry (Strykers) is involved in a drug trafficking scheme, with help of two Special Forces snipers and another government agent with a hiddent agenda. disaster that wiped out so many of the local Agency operatives. Wells is invited back by his former boss to investigate the mess.

Berenson does a fabulous job with the plot, writing an engaging series of events that really makes it hard to put the book down. There is a masterful mix of agency and military options, and it's clear Berenson has done his homework. Theres a wonderful mix of military strategy, a touch of politics (without being heavy-handed) and intrigue that makes this book very compelling. Moreover, the characters are multi-dimenstional for the most part.

I am very reluctant to pay full price (12.99 - 14.99) and stick mostly to other authors because of this. This is one book that is well worth the money. It's a great read.
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