Sean Dillon returns for his twenty-second adventure in Jack Higgins’ The Midnight Bell, and he’s taking on the new leader of a well-known terrorist group.
He calls himself the Master, but beyond that, not much is known about the new leader of al-Qaeda. He filled a position that was made available when former IRA assassin Sean Dillon killed the previous leader–and the one before him.
This time, the new Master has a plan in place to make sure he doesn’t fall victim to a similar fate as his predecessors–kill Dillon before he can mount an offense.
To kick off the well-plotted game of cat and mouse, the Master contacts Dillon to tease just how much al-Qaeda knows about him, other government officials, and their operations. The news is unsettling and leaves Dillon and company scrambling to find out more about the mysterious new leader of the Middle East’s second most dangerous terrorist group.
That response, though, was just what the Master wanted, and he prepared for it in advance by setting a number of traps in place to catch Dillon and American intelligence agents off-balance. The plan works initially, but eventually Dillon realizes the game is afoot and makes a few daring plays himself.
Dillon and his team eventually connect the death of an aging White House secretary, who is actually far more important than the vanilla title reveals, with events from around the world. That revelation is met with a new discovery that has Dillon racing against the clock to prevent a larger attack.
Also returning alongside Dillon are several characters from past books, including his niece, Hannah–who at only nineteen is surprisingly proficient with a number of firearms.
Here’s the problem–well, several of them…
Even if readers are able to get past the unlikely, head-scratching scenario where a terrorist leader calls up the person he’s targeting to show off and brag about how much they know about him…and the gun-toting teenager who isn’t at all phased by violence…there’s still the issue of unbelievable dialogue.
Higgins is a legend and has had a long and storied career, but, with all due respect to him, his latest offering is a mess.
Some of the dialogue is downright cringe-worthy, and most of the new characters read like hollow, mannequin-like fill-ins who add nothing to the plot. It’s disappointing, really.
To top it all off, the narrative bounces around randomly, making trying to follow the story a choppy, confusing experience. While longtime fans of this series will take solace in the fact that Sean Dillon is still very much the lethal, cocky operative they’ve come to love, there’s far more bad than good here.
Newcomers and casual thriller fans will struggle to get through The Midnight Bell‘s many downfalls, and those who do push through are rewarded with a lackluster, underwhelming ending to this mediocre plot.
Author: Jack Higgins
Series: Sean Dillon #22
Pages: 310 (Hardcover)
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: December 27, 2016 (Order Now!)