A Book Spy Review: ‘The Art of War’ By Stephen Coonts

Stephen Coonts The Art of War.jpgSomeone is planning attacks on several prominent Washington players, and it’s up to CIA operative Tommy Carmellini to save the day. 

Several high-profile members of the Washington elite are either murdered or almost murdered. Among them are the directors of the FBI and the Central Intelligence Agency. To fill the void, at least temporarily, Jake Grafton, Coonts’ series protagonist, takes over the CIA. His best, most-trusted operator, Tomy Carmellini is by his side and tasked with figuring out what exactly is going on. 

Meanwhile, China is planning a nuclear attack near the Chesapeake Bay, close to the Navy’s largest, most populated base where it’s fleet is scheduled to return.

Grafton becomes aware of the Chinese sleeper cell but has no clue where they plan to attack. Eventually, he realizes that these attacks on high-profile politicians and heads of government agencies, including an attempt on the life of the president, is all smoke and mirrors.

What was initially thought to be the biggest problem they’te facing, is soon found to be an elaborate distraction to the real danger–the nuclear weapon that was already smuggled onto American soil. Failure to stop this attack, which, if successfully carried out, would make Pearl Harbor look small, would be catastrophic. 

The closer the attack gets to being carried out, the more clues become available to Grafton and Carmellini. Eventually, an all-out race against the clock ensues, and Coonts turns up the heat with breakneck pacing, and adrenaline-pumping suspense. The final act in this book is as good as it gets, as Coonts proves once again that he’s still one of the genre’s must-read authors. 

My Thoughts

Coonts utilizes a large cast of characters, which can be hard to follow at times. He offsets those difficulties, though, by making each character truly unique, with their own distinct voice. He also uses perfectly-times humor to inject some fun into his worst-case-scenario plot, which most thriller authors have a hard time doing. 

The structure of this story is pretty straightforward. The readers have a good idea of what’s going on before the protagonists, so part of the suspense has to do with willing them to connect the dots and put it all together. The action is steady, constantly building to an explosive ending that will leave readers satisfied and ready for more.

All in all, this is a solid installment in Coonts’ bestselling series. The Art of War isn’t the best Grafton novel to date, but it’s right up there, and Coonts shows once again why he’s still one of the best writers at interjecting conspiracy theories into action-packed political thrillers. 

Book Details

Author: Stephen Coonts

Pages: 352 (Hardcover)

Publisher: St. Martins Press

Release Date: February 2, 2016 (Order Now!)


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