In 2010, Ben Coes’ debut novel, Power Down–the first book in his popular Dewey Andreas series–received high praise from readers, critics, and two of the most successful, well-known thriller authors on the planet in Vince Flynn and Brad Thor.
Now, just seven years later, Coes has proven to be a real force in the thriller world, joining the likes of Thor, Daniel Silva, and Kyle Mills (who has taken over Flynn’s Mitch Rapp series) as one of the top authors currently working in the genre.r
Today, Coes’ seventh novel, Trap the Devil, the highly-anticipated follow-up to last year’s First Strike–which is widely considered one of the best political thrillers of the last two decades–officially hits bookstores.
Though he’s gearing up to head out on his book signing tour (scroll to the bottom to see a graphic of all his upcoming stops), Coes was gracious enough to answer a few questions about his latest novel before taking off.
TRBS: In your own words, what is Trap the Devil about?
Ben Coes: “Trap the Devil is about a group of powerful people high up in the U.S. government who attempt to take over the U.S. government from within–a coup more than two decades in the planning. Their goal: take back America and then launch an overwhelming nuclear attack on the Middle East and Europe in order to eradicate Islam from the earth. Dewey stumbles into the plot almost accidentally, but realizes that he must act quickly, and with lethal force, if he is to save America and in particular his friend, President J.P. Dellenbaugh.”
TRBS: How is this book different from last year’s First Strike, which was a real fan-favorite novel?
Ben Coes: “First Strike was about ISIS–its roots, its leadership, its utter brutality. In First Strike, Dewey must stop an ISIS cell that has taken over a dormitory at Columbia, where they start throwing one student every hour from a high floor until their demands are met. Trap the Devil in a way came out of First Strike. First Strike was about the horrible nature of the enemy; Trap the Devil, however, shows that our reactions to our enemy’s brutality can be just as horrible.
“The villain in Trap the Devil, Bruner, sees his daughter killed by a jihadi suicide bomber. His response to this monstrosity is a plan a hundred times more monstrous. As with some of my villains, I think readers will sympathize with Bruner’s anger and sorrow–but not with his plan for nuclear Armageddon.”
TRBS: Without giving anything away, there is a surprise reveal in Trap the Devil that might cause some jaw-dropping reactions among your longtime fans. Was this twist something you’d known before, or did you think of it while writing this book? (Warning: potential spoilers, especially if you haven’t read the other books in Coes’ series)
Ben Coes: “A decade before Power Down, my first book, began, Dewey’s wife committed suicide. Dewey’s guilt and sadness have never gone away and are part of him. In Trap the Devil, we learn that this supposed suicide was perhaps not a suicide after all.
“I’ve been thinking about Dewey’s wife, Holly, for a while. I knew she didn’t commit suicide even back when I wrote Power Down, though I didn’t know what happened. I discovered how she died writing Trap the Devil. That part was a surprise, even to me.”
TRBS: Where would you rank Trap the Devil among your own books?
Ben Coes: “It’s hard to rank my books–they’re like children. I put a lot into each book and love each book, but I love them in different ways. I love Trap the Devil because at times I think I capture or instill a little Ludlum into the plot, and I so look up to Ludlum and love his books, especially The Matarese Circle. There’s a train sequence toward the conclusion of Trap the Devil that, I hope, people will enjoy. An overnight train speeding into the French Alps in the middle of a blizzard, Dewey trying to find a mysterious woman even as he himself is being hunted. I don’t know if I succeeded in evoking Ludlum, but I was trying.”
TRBS: What’s next–do you take time off, or do you start working on the next Dewey Andreas novel right away?
Ben Coes: “At the moment, I’m finishing up book #8 in the Dewey Andreas series, tentatively titled Bloody Sunday. It’s about North Korea. I’m trying to finish the first draft before I hop on a plane Tuesday with my 13-year old son, Oscar, and hit the road on my book tour (Poisoned Pen in Phoenix 6/20, Murder by the Book in Houston 6/21, Tattered Cover in Littleton, CO 6/22, Vero Beach Book Center in Vero Beach, FL 6/23, and Mustard Seed Bookstore in Bath, Maine 6/24). I think I’m going to be writing on the plane. After Bloody Sunday, I begin the first book in a new series. Actually, I’ve already started writing it, but don’t tell my editor.
“I don’t know if other authors feel this way, but I have a hard time taking time off and not writing. I spent last week at our summer house in Maine, writing but with a view of the ocean. I guess it’s my way of having my cake and eating it, too, though even with the sound and sight of the ocean it always comes back to the need to keep writing.”
First of all, Happy Publication Day to Ben Coes and our sincere thanks goes out to him for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with us.
Now, to the readers, I cannot encourage all of you to run out and buy (or click here to order your copy online) Trap the Devil enough. Really, truly, this book is special and unlike anything else I’ve read in a long time. While First Strike–which might be the best political thriller since Vince Flynn’s Transfer of Power–brought the action, Trap the Devil delivers in a different way, though it still has plenty of bullets and explosions!
Coes has always been a fantastic writer, but there’s no question that he’s really hit his stride with this year’s book. Aside from numerous high-powered action sequences, Coes mixes in a smart, suspenseful plotline with a ton of character development on the side–creating an unputdownable thriller that’s perfect for all fans of the genre.
Even if you’ve never read any of Ben Coes’ previous books, newcomers to his series can absolutely jump right into Trap the Devil and thoroughly enjoy it. In fact, readers will learn more about Dewey–what he thinks, feels, and what drives him–in this book than in any of Coes’ previous novels.
If you’re a fan of Vince Flynn, Daniel Silva, Mark Greaney, or Brad Thor, then Ben Coes should be the next name on your list of must-read authors. Run out and get Trap the Devil as soon as possible. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did!