Customer Reviews

28
4.1 out of 5 stars
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 10 September 2011
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a pretty good book but I could only give it three stars because the story is somewhat contrived. I suppose, in some alternative universe, it could be possible but it was just a bit far-fetched, in my opinion. That said, it's written well and it flows. If you've got a long flight, train or bus journey this will fill in the time nicely and you'll probably have it finished before you've reached your destination - if it takes more than four hours.
It is an interesting take to have the main character, a Western conglomarte CIA,FBI,NSA,MI6 action man a Muslim but since he's not all that observant you have to wonder why? Aside from obviously being fluent in Arabic and able to pass for an Arab or Middle Eastern guy - since he slots in so easily in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia - the whole faith thing sort of lies dead in the water. Also, I realize that America is the super-power but to have the bad guys be so totally inept and the hero (John Wells) and his side-kick be so great in all things just pushes the boundary of belief over into pure fantasy.
But, at the end of the day, the story still flows and certainly doesn't strain your intellect, so, for a fast-paced, easy read you probably can't do better than this.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Book 5, in the John Wells series

I am a huge fan of this series and with "The Secret Soldier" Mr. Berenson's ability in storytelling shines. I really enjoy his forensic details and the picture he paints of deadly situations in highly volatile locations. This time we follow the intrepid former Special ops soldier John Wells on a mission while he tries to defuse an impending war on Arabian soil. It is believed a terrorist group that is even deadlier than Al Qaeda is at the heart of the well-orchestrated plan.

The action starts with simultaneous terrorist attacks in Bahrain, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, they are protesting King Abdullah's hold on power of Saudi Arabia. The King believes his family is conspiring against him and want to over through him and place his more fundamentalist brother Saeed in his place, he also suspects they are secretly funding a group of terrorists to cause unrest in the Arab world and trigger a war with the West. The King faced with few options and few people he can trust calls on John Wells for his expertise in highly volatile situations and offers him a financial reward that is very hard to walk away from, especially when you are doing a job you love and excel at. John takes the assignment and soon finds himself in the middle of a very explosive plot with numerous sub-plots facing terrorists and counter terrorists. Things are moving at the speed of light and it is very hard to distinguish between the good guys and the bad guys and those who only want to make trouble in order to reap the benefits in the long run.

With all of the violence and carnage that we have read about in the past decades in world news, it is easy to see where this thriller got its roots. With the help of well-placed research notes, Mr. Berenson gives the reader just enough detail to explain the intricacies and complexities of the Arab culture. As an adrenaline junky I especially enjoyed the endless action and the excellent characterization. The ending left just enough unanswered questions to open the door to another exciting sequel.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 14 November 2011
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the sort of political action thriller you'd expect from the blurb and the jacket. Again, one is led to expect a novel set against a contemporary political backdrop and it slots neatly into the expected space. Initially however it irritated me greatly. Clearly the writer has tried hard to research the background, and to give it authenticity which is commendable. However, in an effort to include all the facts the narrative at times early on gets fragmented. Indeed, sometimes I thought reference to a footnote might have been better, eg our US friends could have been directed to a footnote that informed them Slough is town to the West of London. Those of us who have read John Betjamin could happily skip over this detail and get on with the story.
Happily, later in the book this fault got left behind and we were left with an action packed gung ho thriller with intelligence. Our hero was of course improbably indestructible, but that goes with the territory. However, the plot was interestingly conceived and told with pace and conviction. It handled contemporary themes of oil, Jihad, terrorism and US power in an assured and convincing fashion. It focuses in on Saudi Arabia, a key country often swept under the carpet as we look instead at Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The uncomfortable detente between a country said to be promoting democracy and one ruled by a harsh and traditional monarchy chained to a theocratic tradition is skillfully picked over and contradictions enforced by dollars and oil are exposed.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The Secret Soldier is a tale of Saudi Arabian conspiracy. When the planned succession of the throne in the House of Saud is challenged and a King no longer knows who to trust, he is put in touch with a man that gets things done; enter John Wells.

Wells is an ex-CIA agent that follows Islam, he also speaks Arabic which makes him the perfect mercenary to clear-house and uproot the conspiracy within the Saudi-Arabian palace. When the conspirator's actions threaten to start WWIII, only Wells stands between the world and oblivion.

Well written and paced, TSS will hold your attention for the duration of 408 pages. The action is concise and easy to follow with a couple of scenes that really keep the pages turning. The convoy hi-jack scene could rival Clear and Present Danger. However in places the plot seems rather suspended in fiction and there is a lot of unnecessary locale jumping that doesn't really serve any purpose other than to name-drop the exotic destination.

Despite this, the story is coherent and interesting and Wells isn't your cardboard cut-out good guy. A decent read, recommended.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Let me openly admit that 'The Secret Soldier' was the first of Alex Berenson's novels that I'd read. That, quite definitely, is an omission I'll shortly correct!

Although I have a minor criticism that, in a couple of places, the timeline of the story is briefly a little disjointed, the novel itself is an extremely taut piece of writing. Like me, you'll probably find it almost impossible to put down.

Perhaps the storyline isn't as complex as some of Tom Clancy's original novels (forget those recent titles containing the qualification 'created by Tom Clancy and ***') but it's certainly on a par with many of Robert Ludlum's earlier thrillers - provided, once again, you forget those recent and similarly qualified titles.

Read and enjoy.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book is definitely not as good as the previous one to feature John Wells. It can't seem to make its mind up whether we have an action thriller or a rather disjointed history of Saudi Arabia and the jihadists.

If you cut through the stuff about the latter, this is a good thriller but the author wants us to know that Wells is a flawed man, so not everything works out as it should. Rather like real life, of course but Wells is not a real life character which leaves me wondering where the author is going with his hero.

Anyway, Saudi Arabia is a good melting pot though we do move from Jamaica - settling old scores - to Lebanon, Cyprus and not forgetting Paris. It's amazing what a few million in cash can do; buy a boat here, buy another one there. steal a car and leave a mini fortune behind for the owner. It's all a bit silly, actually. Then we have Wells's dilemma about killing people. This is what he does but periodically forgets this and reverts to his lately converted to Islam ideals. It doesn't work for me, there's just too much in the book which doesn't ring true even though I know this is all fiction. Why, for example, immobilize two jihadists (having previously bumped off a whole bunch elsewhere) because of his previously mentioned ideals and then kill the third without a qualm?

The Faithful Spy was a taut thriller; this one is not. When we get to the action bits, these flow very well - almost back the style of the first book but in between, I found myself wanting to reach the end rather more quickly than I should. I'm still up for book number three but, if that one turns out to be similar to this one, I won't search out number four.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a further adventure in the life of John Wells, now a former CIA operative, recruited on this occasion by the monarchy in Saudi Arabia. The narrative is bang up to date with contemporary events woven seamlessly into the story line and plenty of interesting information about Saudi society and its divisions. A geriatric and ailing King Abdullah is feeling threatened by internal plotting connected with the succession. In addition he is worried by the possibly connected outbreak of terrorist outrages within his Kingdom which the security forces appear to have no real grip on and which a new group seem to be behind. John Wells agrees to get involved as he feels he is going to be helping the more progressive faction within the Kingdom rather than for any mercenary reasons though in Saudi Arabia it is clear that there is no black and white, just shades of grey.

I had not read the previous John Wells books and can confirm that this volume can be read on a standalone basis. However, there are quite a lot of references which I presume are to previous books, the most obvious one being when early on John starts to murmur `there is no God but God and Muhammad is his messenger'. We are told that he converted to Islam a long while ago in Afghanistan. Now this is a rather startling revelation to say the least and I am presuming it was covered in one of the other books as we learn little more as to how or why. Hence I think that although it is not essential, it would be advantageous for the reader to have read the previous volumes before starting Secret Soldier.

For the first 100 pages or so I really had my doubts. The book sets off in a Middle East environment and begins with a terrorist attack which grabs the reader's attention from the word go. However, for some reason we then move off a few thousand miles to Montego Bay, Jamaica where our hero is in action attempting to apprehend a former CIA double agent. This fills some 70 pages and apart from demonstrating that Jack is an efficient operative, it does not add anything of significance to the main plot whatsoever. It is almost as though the author penned a John Wells short story, was not too sure what to do with it so decided to randomly tack it into this book as a less than riveting space filler. We then move on to the main story line and the plot gathers pace and it is hard to put down. However, I am still bemused as to the point of the Caribbean excursion unless it was tying up loose ends from a previous book in which case it may have been better included in there as a postscript!

Leaving aside the first part of the book, this is a well researched and well plotted tale which makes for a riveting read. Momentum gathers as the story unfolds and Wells begins to get to grips with the intricacies of the conspiracy behind the terrorist outrages. I imagine that most readers who like action packed stories and can stomach a little graphic violence are going to really enjoy this one. I certainly did!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 14 July 2011
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the first book I have read by this author and found it to be a good fast paced thriller. The hero John Wells, a former American intelligence operative, is the central character. It soon becomes apparent that this character has featured in some of the author's previous novels but this does not stop you enjoying this as a stand-alone read.

The main action is set in the Middle East and revolves around the battle for power within the Saudi Arabian royal family and a set of radical terrorists. Our hero is hired by King Abdullah to find out who is behind a series of terrorist attacks that have started to happen within the Kingdom. I found the information on the history of the Saudi Arabian royal family particularly enlightening and also how they interact with the rest of the population.

There is a minor sub-plot at the start of the book involving a trip to Jamaica on a totally different issue. It may be this is clearing up some loose ends from a previous John Wells story and does not detract from enjoying this story. All in all it is an excellent fast paced action thriller with some well researched content.

I enjoyed it so much I would definitely read another of this author's books.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
VINE VOICEon 30 June 2011
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the first Alex Berenson novel I've read and it definitely won't be the last. The main character, John Wells, is an ex-CIA agent who immediately has the reader on his side - an interesting, experienced, multi-dimensional,credible and likeable individual. He is tasked with going undercover to investigate claims of a plot to overthrow the Saudi government.
That's the gist of the plot, I don't want to give anything else away. What follows is a fast paced, energetic and gritty thriller which I found to be compelling reading. Apart from the action in the story, I was also educated about some of the finer points of the history between the countries involved, primarily the US and Saudi, given insight into the workings of the intelligence community and there was enough technical information to be enlightening without over detailing.
An intelligent thriller, in some ways James Bondish, but better - no gimmicks or cliches and a much more credible operative in John Wells. From reading more about the author I've discovered that there are other books "starring" John Wells, they are now on my "Will read" list.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Set mainly is Saudi Arabia, the book deals with the fast changing atmosphere of a world teetering on the edge of a global oil crisis; His Majesty King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is forced to turn to one man who can save his Kingdom from anarchy and the control of terrorist extremists... That man is ex-CIA operative John Wells, and he is charged with hunting down the perpetrators of an ever increasingly violent attempt to overthrow the House of Saud: Instead of this however he discovers an even more deadly plot, that is to bring the West and the Islamic countries into conflict... a Jihad... and one that must be stopped at all costs; not only for the sake of the Saudi Kingdom but for the very security and safety of the world we live in.
Unexpected plot turns, fast pacing adventures and neck prickling details make this a page turner you wont want to put down.
One word of warning however: If you start to read this at night you might find that you cant put it down, and see dawns early glow as you turn page after page:
Recommended!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this item also viewed


 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.