It all started when Ahmed Shakir, a low-level drug dealer, got popped by the FBI for dealing cocaine out of the back restroom in a hole-in-the-wall bar near Dallas, Texas.
To make the drug charges go away, Shakir is given a choice. One of his cousins has worked his way onto the FBI’s radar as someone who may engage in terrorist activity. Rather than wait for the young man to plot and plan on his own, the feds have come up with a bold plan to use Shakir so they can make a controlled arrest.
Pretending to have recently seen the light, Shakir convinces his cousin and a few other loyal members of their mosque to help him strike a blow against the Great Satan. With the FBI secretly funding the operation and supplying the weapons, Shakir leads the efforts in planning an attack at America Airlines Center, home of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team. Shakir’s job is to drive the men to their location. As soon as law enforcement officials, who will secretly be tailing them, see the Muslim men take up their rifles — which are rigged to not fire — they’ll swoop in and arrest them all.
Rather than go to prison, Shakir walks through door number two, agreeing to help bring down his cousin. But things go terribly wrong…
Not only were the FBI and local law enforcement nowhere to be seen once the jihadists arrived at America Airlines Center, but, even worse, the guns that weren’t supposed to fire start spraying bullets towards large crowds of innocent people. A moment later, a huge explosion rings out, killing Shakir just before the other gunmen were taken out by police snipers. In the end, nearly four hundred innocent lives were taken.
Ex-CIA operative John Wells is called to the White House shortly after the Dallas attack took place. Heading into his meeting with President Vinnie Duto, the former CIA Director back when Wells was still with the agency, John expects his former boss to send him to Dallas to help investigate the terrorist attack. Instead, Duto wants him to head to South America.
Wells, who converted to Islam many years prior, is mostly retired and fully enjoying his new life with his young daughter — whom he co-parents with his former lover turned sometimes partner, Anne — and is reluctant to once again be pulled back into the world of espionage and covert ops. But when Duto tells him an old informant in Columbia claims to have vital information about the attack, it’s welcome back and wheels up for Wells.
The mission, which was supposed to be relatively simple, goes wrong almost as soon as Wells touches down in Columbia. Before long, he’s engaging in gunfights and chasing conspiracy theories around the globe on his way to uncovering a sinister plot hatched up by the Russians to not only try and steal America’s election, but to overtake the United States government entirely.
With Russian moles embedded high within America’s government and sleeper cells in place and ready to carry out a number of attacks, Wells realizes that the incident in Dallas wasn’t a one-time attack, it was merely the lightning before the thunder. With a dangerous storm brewing, it’s once again up to John Wells to save the day before it’s too late.
Those who haven’t read Alex Berenson’s series are missing out on one of the genre’s premier protagonists. Berenson continues to develop his main character brilliantly, finding new ways to make Wells relatable to readers without taking away his edge. Likewise, the secondary cast is engaging and memorable, as Berenson is able to skillfully manipulate readers into feeling subtle shifts in emotion from chapter to chapter based on who the narrative is following.
Now twelve books in, John Wells is still facing new challenges both in his private life and in his career, giving longtime fans of Berenson’s series plenty to be excited about. Newcomers can jump in here without missing a beat, thanks to just enough recapping of past events. There’s not a lot of time spent looking backward, though, as Berenson’s plot explodes right from the get-go. Literally.
With a plot that feels eerily prophetic in part because of recent current events, John wells takes on one of his most dangerous assignments yet in Alex Berenson’s The Deceivers, an electrifying thriller that’s not to be missed.
Author: Alex Berenson
Series: John Wells #12
Pages: 448 (Hardcover)
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 8.0/10
Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.