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)


Unit 400

Title:                      Unit 400

Author:                  T.L. Williams

Williams, T(erry) L. (2014). Unit 400: The Assassins. Ponte Vedra Beach, FL: First Coast Publishers

LCCN:    2013943666

PS3623.I5643 U55 2014


  • “Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is reeling from a devastating attack on its covert training center in Bandar Deylam, Iran. In retaliation Iran’s Supreme Ruler unleashes an ultra secret weapon—Unit 400. This cadre of trained assassins has its roots in ancient Persian culture, when Ismaili leader, Hassan al-Sabbah, unleashed the Hashasin from their mountain fortress at Alamut to assassinate political and religious foes. One man stands in their way—former Navy SEAL Logan Alexander”—Excerpt of summary from the back of the book.


Date Posted:      April 21, 2017


Ex–Navy SEAL Logan Alexander returns in the sequel to Williams’ 2012 novel Cooper’s Revenge[2].

Alexander is in a good place: He has a huge office at his own consulting firm with a beautiful view of downtown Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, and he’s made it through combat relatively unscathed. Things are calm until he leaves the office for what he thinks will be a routine lunch with his friend and colleague Hamid. Instead, Logan witnesses Hamid getting stabbed in the chest and left for dead. He tries to help Hamid hang on, to no avail, but his friend manages to whisper to him, “Be careful, Logan. Unit 400”—a code for the Qods Force, a dangerous Iranian assassination squad. Logan soon discovers that the weapon that killed Hamid is none other than his very own SEAL-issue knife—the same one he used to bring down Col. Barzin Ghabel in Iran. He tries to figure out how the knife could have made it all the way to Boston and what it could mean. One thing is clear, however: A deadly message has been sent. From that moment on, Logan is back in the cross hairs, zigzagging across the globe to bring down Unit 400 and stay alive in the process. As a sequel, the story doesn’t pay as much attention to character development as some readers might prefer, but those familiar with the original novel will be pleased to find the same Logan Alexander in charge. Classic elements of a modern espionage story abound: mystery, intrigue, danger, technology, and, importantly, a sense of immediacy, thanks to the global forces at play. Those with a taste for military fiction that tackles current events will find this story enticing. The author might have taken more time to explain the history of Middle Eastern conflicts, but that’s hardly in the job description for a quick spy yarn. As it is, readers definitely won’t feel shortchanged by this consistently exciting thriller.

A worthy follow-up espionage tale.

[1] Kirkus, downloaded April 21, 2017

[2] Williams, T(erry) L. (2013). Cooper’s Revenge. Ponte Vedra Beach, FL: First Coast Publishers

True Faith And Allegiance

Title:                      True Faith And Allegiance

Author:                Mark Greaney

Greaney, Mark (2016). Tom Clancy: True Faith And Allegiance. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

LCCN:    2016040954

PS3607.R4285 T76 2016


  • “The #1 New York Times-bestselling series is back with the most shocking revelation of all. After years of facing international threats, President Jack Ryan learns that the greatest dangers always come from within… It begins with a family dinner in Princeton, New Jersey. After months at sea, U.S. Navy Commander Scott Hagan, captain of the USS James Greer, is on leave when he is attacked by an armed man in a crowded restaurant. Hagan is shot, but he manages to fight off the attacker. Though severely wounded, the gunman reveals he is a Russian whose brother was killed when his submarine was destroyed by Commander Hagan’s ship. Hagan demands to know how the would-be assassin knew his exact location, but the man dies before he says more. In the international arrivals section of Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport, a Canadian businessman puts his fingerprint on a reader while chatting pleasantly with the customs official. Seconds later he is shuffled off to interrogation. He is actually an American CIA operative who has made this trip into Iran more than a dozen times, but now the Iranians have his fingerprints and know who he is. He is now a prisoner of the Iranians. As more deadly events involving American military and intelligence personnel follow, all over the globe, it becomes clear that there has been some kind of massive information breach and that a wide array of America’s most dangerous enemies have made a weapon of the stolen data. With U.S. intelligence agencies potentially compromised, it’s up to John Clark and the rest of The Campus to track the leak to its source. Their investigation uncovers an unholy threat that has wormed its way into the heart of our nation. A danger that has set a clock ticking and can be stopped by only one man…President Jack Ryan”– Provided by publisher.


Date Posted:      January 13, 2017

Reviewed by: Jerry Lenaburg[1]

Mark Greaney has continued Tom Clancy’s iconic characters in his sixth novel featuring the Jack Ryan father and son duo, and it is a magnificent page turner.

The novel starts at 100 mph and maintains that speed throughout, weaving a compelling plot, plenty of tension and suspense, and the cast of characters that Clancy fans have followed for nearly 30 years.

The basic plot of the novel is both compelling and frighteningly realistic, and is, as the saying goes, ripped straight from today’s headlines. Needless to say, anyone who has worked in the defense or intelligence industry will shake their heads at Greaney’s twist to the story and ask themselves, “Wow, could something like this really happen?”

The mark of a good techno-thriller is that the technology and lingo compliment and not distract from the story, and this book handles this story challenge quite well. Readers expect high tech weaponry, techno heavy plots, and realistic actions scenes, and Greaney masters all of these, keeping the jargon down to the minimum while using it to augment the story.

One of the best things about sticking with this series is the books offer a continuum of characters and events, with Greaney tying them together throughout this book to provide a seamless story arc of characters and events across all of his volumes.

Certainly there no anti-heroes nor no moral complexity to these books: the good guys are good, the villains are villainous, although Greaney does grant that being a villain does not mean a character can’t be devious and cunning. A reader may certainly gnash their teeth at the ease with which the villain seems to be able to carry out the plan of mayhem and destruction.

Most importantly for a book like this, Greaney has mastered the art of weaving four or five different subplots and their associated minor characters into an artful mosaic that converges with breakneck speed toward the end of the book, bringing the story to a climax and conclusion that are ultimately very satisfying when the final page is finished.

For Tom Clancy fans, and now for those of us that have become Mark Greaney fans of Tom Clancy’s characters, this will make an excellent holiday page turner, providing just the right mix of plot, character, and pacing to keep you turning the pages by the Christmas tree lights.

[1] Jerry Lenaburg in New York Journal of Books, downloaded January 13, 2017. Jerry D. Lenaburg is a Project Manager and Senior Military Analyst with Northrop Grumman. A 1987 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, he served as a Naval Flight Officer from 1987–1998 and has published in the Journal of Military History.

Bourne Legacy

Title:                      Bourne Legacy

Author:                Eric Van Lustbader

Lustbader, Eric (2004). Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne In The Bourne Legacy: A Novel. New York: St. Martin’s Press

LCCN:    2004049029

PS3562.U752 R63 2004


Date Posted:      January 9, 2017

Review by Paul Allen[1]

When Robert Ludlum died in March of 2001, millions of fans mourned the passing of a brilliant and prolific storyteller and the loss of future novels featuring his most popular character, CIA operative Jason Bourne.

But after the tremendous international success of the 2002 film adaptation of The Bourne Identity starring Matt Damon (its sequel, The Bourne Supremacy, is scheduled to hit theaters July 23, 2004) and the ever-increasing demand worldwide for a new installment in the Bourne saga, the Ludlum estate turned to Eric Van Lustbader, author of best-selling thrillers like The Ninja and Black Heart and one of Ludlum’s friends. Lustbader, a longtime admirer of Ludlum’s Bourne sequence, says he “jumped at the chance, because the estate promised I could do my own story and write in my own style.” The result, he says, surprised even him. “In many ways it’s the best novel I’ve ever written.”

The Bourne Legacy begins with David Webb (aka Jason Bourne) retired from the CIA and teaching linguistics at Georgetown University. But when an assassin almost kills him on campus and he is framed for the murder of his two closest friends, Webb is forced to revert to his deadly Bourne persona. With the full force of the CIA and a relentless assassin closing in on him, Bourne must stay alive long enough to figure out who set him up, and why. His desperate quest, which takes him to Paris, Crete, Budapest and Iceland, also leads him to the last place he wants to go his past.

Lustbader was right: The Bourne Legacy is arguably his best work to date. (And the shocking bombshells that he drops regarding the character of Jason Bourne will have fans of this series talking for months.) Powered by highly volatile, raw-edged emotion, and dozens of complex characters, each with their own intriguing history, The Bourne Legacy will leave readers furiously turning pages until its breathtaking (and heart-wrenching) conclusion.

[1] BookPage review by Paul Allen (July 2004), downloaded January 9, 2017

Without Fail

Title:                      Without Fail

Author:                 Lee Child

Child, Lee (2002). Without Fail. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

LCCN:    2001048849

PS3553.H4838 W58 2002


Date Posted:      September 9, 2016

While this may seem to be mere suspense fiction, I consider it anti-terrorism fiction, and thus I think it should be included here.


When the newly elected Vice President’s life is threatened, the Secret Service runs to nomadic soldier-of-fortune Jack Reacher (Echo Burning[2], etc.) in this razor-sharp update of The Day of the Jackal[3] and In the Line of Fire[4] that’s begging to be filmed.

Why Reacher? Because M.E. Froelich, head of the VP’s protection team, was once a colleague and lover of his late brother Joe, who’d impressed her with tales of Jack’s derring-do as an Army MP. Now Froelich and her Brooks Brothers-tailored boss Stuyvesant have been receiving a series of anonymous messages threatening the life of North Dakota Senator/Vice President-elect Brook Armstrong. Since the threats may be coming from within the Secret Service’s own ranks—if they aren’t, it’s hard to see how they’ve been getting delivered—they can’t afford an internal investigation. Hence the call to Reacher, who wastes no time in hooking up with his old friend Frances Neagley, another Army vet turned private eye, first to see whether he can figure out a way to assassinate Armstrong, then to head off whoever else is trying. It’s Reacher’s matter-of-fact gift to think of everything, from the most likely position a sniper would assume at Armstrong’s Thanksgiving visit to a homeless shelter to the telltale punctuation of one of the threats, and to pluck helpers from the tiny cast who can fill the remaining gaps because they aren’t idiots or stooges. And it’s Child’s gift to keep tightening the screws, even when nothing’s happening except the arrival of a series of unsigned letters, and to convey a sense of the blank impossibility of guarding any public figure from danger day after highly exposed day, and the dedication and heroism of the agents who take on this daunting job.

Relentlessly suspenseful and unexpectedly timely: just the thing for Dick Cheney’s bedside reading wherever he’s keeping himself these days.

[1] Kirkus Review,, downloaded September 9, 2016

[2] Child, Lee (2001). Echo Burning. New York : G.P Putnam’s Sons. [LCCN: 00045910]

[3] Forsyth, Frederick (1971). The Day of the Jackal. New York, Viking Press

[4] Griffin, W. E. B. (1992). In the Line of Fire. New York: Putmam [LCCN: 91029971]