Featured Review: ‘Bloody Sunday’ by Ben Coes

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Bloody Sunday coverBen Coes has dazzled readers throughout his career, but he’s never treated readers to a show quite like this before.

Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s Supreme Leader, is terminally ill. Cancer has spread throughout his entire body, his prognosis confirmed by one of the most elite cancer specialists in all the world. But rather than surrender to his fate and make plans to pass peacefully, Kim does just the opposite.

Keeping his diagnosis private, Kim (who is described as having “the body of a sixty-year-old and the face of a child) decides that if he’s going down, he’s taking the United States down with him. Instructing his scientists to ramp up their nuclear weapons program, the morbidly obese leader then looks for a partner to provide North Korea with the long-range ballistic missile needed to carry the nuclear payload.

Meanwhile, in America, Dewey Andreas is still reeling from the jaw-dropping revelation that Coes stunned readers with in Trap the Devil (2017). Fueled by rage and heartache, Dewey goes on a personal mission. His quest for retribution brings him face-to-face with someone from his past, a character that longtime fans of the series will immediately recognize.

At the same time Dewey is off the grid handling his personal side mission, CIA Director Hector Calibrisi (along with many others in the United States government) is becoming more and more concerned with North Korea’s dramatic increase in nuclear activity. Directed by President Dellenbaugh to find a way to slow down Kim’s efforts, a daring plan is hatched to flip one of Kim’s top military generals into playing for the U.S.

Jenna Hartford, an operation designer on loan from MI6, heads up the mission planning. Rather than kill General Yong-sik, Hartford pitches the idea of poisoning him with a synthetic drug designed to act slowly — giving the host twenty-four hours to obtain an antidote before dying a slow and painful death. If he complies and gives the CIA the information they need about North Korea’s nuclear program, they’ll direct Yong-sik to the antidote. If he doesn’t, well, they’ll move to Plan B.

It’s a can’t-lose situation, at least on paper, and Calibrisi green-lights it, with Dewey their top choice to fly to Macau in order to drug the traveling North Korean general.

Hartford, who steals every scene she’s in, soon watches her can’t-lose scenario take a disastrous, unforeseen turn when Dewey — who needed significant urging to even agree to take the mission in the first place — accidentally injects a small amount of the poison into himself during a struggle. Worse, the only vial containing the antidote is already in North Korea, which means that in order to survive. . . Dewey Andreas must get to North Korea and locate the antidote, while also trying to find a way to stop Kim’s sinister plot to nuke the United States before it’s too late. 

With the clock ticking down from the moment the poison enters his bloodstream, Dewey quickly finds himself facing the most challenging and dangerous mission of his illustrious career. 

When it comes to writing talent, characters, and high-octane plots, Ben Coes is right on par with the late Vince Flynn. Like Flynn, Coes clearly has an understanding of how things work behind-the-scenes. Some of his best chapters involve the mission prep, which takes readers inside the CIA and walks them through how an operation is carried out — from conception to getting an agent in place. Those parts alone are riveting, even if they aren’t meant to be, and the action stuff is absolutely off the charts. Coes’ trademark humor is the cherry on top and everything his readers have come to expect from him and then some. (Dewey might be the only guy who can accidentally inject himself with poison and still provide well-timed sarcastic one-liners. That humor, like in earlier books, really adds a layer of entertainment to the story.)

Dewey Andreas continues to grow as a character, and Coes once again masterfully handles his development. Longtime fans will especially appreciate one standout, lighthearted scene between Andreas and the president, which is equal parts emotional and funny. Like other series protagonists, Dewey is larger than life, but Coes finds subtle ways to keep him human. That authenticity really helps bring the series to life, and even raises the stakes for readers, especially in this book, when Dewey’s life is on the line.

Ever since Independence Day (2015), Ben Coes has been operating on another level, unmatched by anyone else in the genre. Bloody Sunday is his boldest, most daring thriller yet. . .  and Coes has the ballsy wit to pull it all off in a way that only he can.

Book Details

Author: Ben Coes
Series: Dewey Andreas #8
Pages: 400 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1250140765
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: July 31, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 9.75/10

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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.

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  1. When Vince Flynn passed away a candle went out for readers of his genre. Mitch Rapp was a wonderful character and like any hero did what he had to do to accomplish his mission. Along came Ben Coes to establish Dewey Andreas as a genuine international agent that carries on the tradition of Flynn’s fascinating main character. Coes has rekindled this kind of writing style with his creativity and technical expertise. I enjoyed all of his novels and expect the same from his next opus.

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