Kingdom Come Mass Market Paperback – Jul 3 2001
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Jack Dunphy is a CIA agent operating in London, and when someone he's had under surveillance is murdered in a savage, seemingly ritualized killing, the Agency "disappears" him from Her Majesty's territory and assigns him to a headquarters job that's the equivalent of walking a Staten Island beat. Bored into somnolence shuffling files requested by the public under the Freedom of Information Act, Dunphy suspects that his bosses are trying to get him to quit, so he uses his top secret clearance to find out why. In the process, he uncovers evidence that points to a centuries-old conspiracy whose purpose has been aided and abetted by the CIA since its beginning. When his colleague and roommate is brutally murdered in what was either a warning to him or a case of mistaken identity, Dunphy decamps for the continent; with Clementine, his English girlfriend, he tracks a secret society to its Swiss headquarters and pulls off a daring raid that nets him evidence of the Agency's long-standing role in an effort to change the course of history. While it has millennial overtones, this fast-paced and provocative thriller has no Y2K "sell by" date; what it does have is an intriguing explanation for contemporary mysteries like Roswell, UFOs, crop circles, and other paranormal happenings. Jack Dunphy is an enterprising and charming spy with a solid future as a series hero. Fans of Ian Fleming will find him a likely successor to James Bond, and doubtless Hollywood will as well. --Jane Adams --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Veteran journalist and spy-craft expert Hougan (Spooks; Secret Agenda) puts his inside knowledge to fictional use in this intelligent and pulse-pounding debut thriller about a CIA agent who pokes his stick under one too many rocks. John Dunphy, working undercover in London, finds his career in tatters after a college professor he had under surveillance is viciously murdered. Though the murder was neither his doing nor his fault, Dunphy is called back to D.C., interrogated for days and finally relegated to a desk job processing the agency's vast backlog of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Since nobody at the CIA will tell Dunphy why he has been handled so harshly, Dunphy devises a way to find out. Using a fake name, he makes FOIA requests about everyone and anything having to do with his demotion, then routes the requests to himself for investigation. What he learns makes him a marked man. A secret society of world leaders, Dunphy discovers, has shaped history for hundreds of years, and now has its home base at the CIA. Now a marked man, Dunphy and his beautiful sidekick, Clementine, rush from one European capital to another, staying just ahead of their pursuers. With each stop, they gather more disturbing details about the secret network, which dates to medieval France and now controls world politics, economics and even the arts. (Historical figures who enter Hougan's story include famed spymasters Allen Dulles and James Jesus Angleton and poet Ezra Pound.) A former Washington editor for Harper's, Hougan demonstrates fine command of his material. His familiarity with the ways of spies, amply shown in his nonfiction, permeates his novel. Better yet, his writing is punchy and spare, his characterizations lively. Hougan slips only at the end: his finale seeks to defy convention, but may just leave readers fumbling for answers. Audio rights to Brilliance. (Feb.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Jack believes his unofficial demotion is designed to force him into resigning. He has no idea why his superiors want him to leave the agency except perhaps the link to the deceased professor. He begins some discreet checking, but his activities are noticed. Soon, attempts are made on Jackâs life. As he gets closer to uncovering the truth about an internationally powerful cartel, his chances of survival geometrically drop by the hour.
Conspiracy buffs will name the publishing date of KINGDOM COME as a national holiday. Jim Hougan answers the questions about the paranormal and extraterrestrial forces at work in today's world. The global conspiracy has religious undertones, headed by a wealthy organization that hides in plain sight. Readers will cheer on the likable lead protagonist who is an every person fighting a Quixote-like quest that has no boundaries. Though the tale is filled with many surprises, Mr. Hougan never loses sight of his main theme: the truth is right here not out there.
As Dunphy plows through clues that take him all over Europe, the reader breathlessly turns page after page, liking Dunphy and his cohorts immediately. The facts that he uncovers make for fascinating reading---puzzlers will enjoy being thrown information seemingly straight out of left field. Unfortunately, as the story leads into its ultimate denouement, it becomes choppy, the ending sequences beginning at the estate within the Swiss National Park and the ending voyage at sea seem rushed and not fully thought out, as if the author had run out of steam and simply wanted to finish the story under 400 pages. The last paragraph leads the reader to believe some sort of transference has taken place, but obviously this is certainly not developed and there seems no hint of a part two where the reader can stretch his imagination further.
Kingdom Come utilizes themes that have become familiar territory after the publication of the very popular "DaVinci Code". But in as much as that novel also rushes the reader in and out of intriguing snippets of history replete with secret societies, it does come to a fairly complete, if not predictable, conclusion--not so with "Kingdom Come"---the protoganists accomplish their missions, but the ending seems to grasp at something not quite touched upon in the main body of the work. I would have liked to have read more information regarding the gentleman introduced at the tail end of the novel, perhaps even a concurrent historical story running parallel to the actual action tale. Perhaps then, I would have felt that the ending had some meaning in terms of this gentleman's characterization and overall fit into the overall scheme of things. The focus should have been on him and not the Pound/Dulles affair showcased by the author. As with the "John Case" selections, Hougan again seems to fall into the trap of simply using his book to over-instruct his readers on trivia that while fun has little to do with the overall outcome of the story. Providing a reading guide at the back of the book would definitely be a plus for those readers who want more information and do wish to read further.
Nevertheless Hougan presents a great page-turner for at least 7/8's of the book's journey and I will recommend it with some reluctance to anyone who likes a quick read with some fun historical mysteries thrown in.