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Thursday, October 10, 2013

THE SECRET SOLDIER (John Wells #5) (audiobook) by Alex Berenson

Published by Recorded Books in 2011.
Read by George Guidall
Duration: 11 hours, 23 minutes

This is my first John Wells book. For those not in the know, John Wells is a former CIA agent who is also a Muslim (if not a particularly devout one when it comes to all of the formalities). He now freelances, sometimes working with the CIA, sometimes not.

The first part of The Secret Soldier deals with John Wells tracking down a former operative in Jamaica and bringing him back to the United States. I am unsure as to why this was included in the book - it had nothing to do with the rest of the story except to establish that John Wells is burned out and is unsure about the life of violence that he has led. 

The heart of the story involves a plot against the royal family of Saudi Arabia. Wells is hired by the King  of Saudi Arabia himself to investigate a series of terrorist attacks within Saudi Arabia. As Wells investigates he discovers that the source of these attacks may by closer to the King than he ever imagined and the trail leads Wells to the Saudi kingdom and into the holy city of Mecca itself.

Once the audiobook moves into the main plot, this book hums along. There is plenty of action, intrigue and the occasional funny moment. The author includes plenty of background information about the political state of Saudi Arabia and its relationship with the Wahhabi movement in Islam so the reader gets a solid grasp of what is at stake. This book is eerily on track with current events even though it was published two years ago. The NSA program that became so controversial in the summer of 2013 is explained in detail as well as the dangerous line walked by governments that do not completely kowtow to the rule of Muslim clerics (witness the current struggles in Egypt and Syria).

Legendary audiobook reader George Guidall reads The Secret Soldier. Guidall covers the wide variety of accents that a book of this scope requires in his typical professional and competent manner. But, in the fight scenes Guidall shines - he speeds up and slows down and makes it like a movie scene with sped up segments and slow-mo parts that makes the reader sit up and take notice. Well done, sir.

This is an excellent book with the exception of the Jamaica-based introduction. Overall, it comes out to a score of 4 out of 5.

Reviewed on October 10, 2013.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: The Secret Soldier

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