The Marching Season

Title:                      The Marching Season

Author:                Daniel Silva

Silva, Daniel (1999). The Marching Season. New York: Random House

LCCN:    98053464

PR6069.I362 M36 1999

LC Subjects

Date Posted:      July 19, 2017

Review by Edward Neuert[1]

Composing spy novels in the wake of the Cold War is a tough business, but in the wake of “Austin Powers” it has become even more difficult. So you can blame the two Michaels, Gorbachev and Myers, for the bind Daniel Silva finds himself in. Silva’s third political thriller follows Michael Osbourne, a retired C.I.A. officer, as he is forced back into his former trade. His mission: to protect his father-in-law, the newly appointed American Ambassador to London, from assassination at the hands of a rogue Protestant faction opposed to the Good Friday accords for peace in Ireland. Stepping in to support this faction—and to assist in the assassination plot—is the Society for International Development and Cooperation, a shadowy organization of powerful arms dealers, intelligence operatives and crime associations who want to “promote constant, controlled global tension through covert operations.” In the old days, the ranks of the K.G.B. or the Stasi could cough up a fictional spymaster who, no matter how thinly drawn or wooden-tongued, would have enough immoral reality behind him to successfully stagger to life on the page. Now such figures often seem silly. Silva’s readers are asked to believe that without the guidance of the Society’s omnipotent Director, airliners would not explode in the sky off Long Island, Arab leaders would not face assassination, and Irish hotheads would be without resources. In these days of decentralized mayhem, however, it does not take Dr. No to make bad things occur—to paraphrase the bumper sticker, Evil Happens. Silva is not a bad writer, and one wishes he had cut straight to his gritty, unnerving Irish scenes and dug deeper into the sod of Ulster, where everything is green and bleak and where, as one I.R.A. member says, “we may stop slaughtering each other for a while, but nothing’s ever going to change.”

[1] Edward Neuert, in The New York Times (May 9, 1999)

Act of Treason

Title:                     Act of Treason

Author:                Vince Flynn

Flynn, Vince (2006). Act of Treason. New York: Atria Books

LCCN:    2006299247

PS3556.L94 A25 2006

LC Subjects

Date Posted:      July 10, 2017

Review by Joe Hartlaub[1]

Act of Treason, Vince Flynn’s novel featuring maverick CIA agent Mitch Rapp, is properly classified as a thriller. But Flynn plays with the concept of the genre here, rearranging the blocks, if you will, with electrifying and riveting results.

The story does not concern a terrorist plot about to take place that will change the course of the nation and that must be discovered and prevented before all is lost. Instead, the major action—an explosive attack upon a motorcade carrying presidential candidate Josh Alexander, his wife and vice-presidential candidate Mark Ross—is successfully carried out at the very beginning of the book. Alexander’s wife is killed, and Alexander and Ross, behind in the polls with the election only weeks away, are unexpectedly swept to victory by a sympathetic electorate.

When the identity of the bomber is revealed through a combination of luck, dogged investigation and high technology, Rapp leads a team of CIA agents to capture him, only to discover that the apprehension of the assassin is but one thread in a tapestry that presents a picture of deceit and dishonor that leads to the highest corridors of the White House.

There aren’t many secrets in Act of Treason—it becomes fairly obvious early on where Flynn is going with this—but the unknown factors, such as what Rapp will discover, how he will do so, and, ultimately, what he is going to do about it, is what makes the book a finger-burning page-turner. His major strengths—plotting and pacing–are let out at full throttle so that the 400+ story-packed pages literally fly by.

Flynn’s profile rises with the publication of each new novel, and there is no doubt that Act of Treason will bring him to even loftier heights. Rapp is a hero for our age, a rougher, more independent and ultimately more effective Jack Ryan for the 21st century. He may, or may not, exist as a clandestine force in the real world; here’s hoping that he does.

[1] Joe Hartlaub, at BookReporter (January 11, 2011)