Featured Review: ‘American Operator’ by Andrews and Wilson


American OperatorFollowing their latest action-packed thriller, Crusader One (2017), Andrews and Wilson bring former Tier One Navy SEAL John Dempsey back for his most high-stakes mission yet.

The U.S. ambassador to Turkey has been killed. The devastating attack has left many, including American officials, stunned. However, things are even worse than they initially seemed, as very few people know that the ambassador’s chief of staff, Amanda Allan, has been kidnapped by the terrorists who killed her boss. Even fewer people know the truth about Amanda—that she’s actually an undercover CIA operative—or why, exactly, she had been posing as a diplomat in the first place.

With neither all-out war nor diplomatic solutions proving to be a viable option to secure Amanda and bring her home, the president of the United States turns to his third option: Ember.

Led by John Dempsey, the group’s star operator, Ember is an elite, off-the-books task force that serves as the president’s deadliest secret weapon. But this time, John and his team are on their own, unexpectedly cut off from the powers that be and forced to maneuver through war-torn Syria—desperately searching for Amanda in hopes of reaching her before her captors are able to break her and extract the secrets she holds. But time is fast running out for Dempsey, who battles past demons in addition to present-day obstacles, to figure out what’s really going on—and in the end, the stakes end up being much higher than even he could have ever imagined.

One of the things that makes this series so unique is how Andrews and Wilson have structured their stories. Each book has its own storyline and conclusion, though every three books function as a separate trilogy within the series—continuing the same overall arc. American Operator kicks off a new trilogy, and while Dempsey’s main focus here is saving Amanda Allan, that’s really just the first carrot that pulls him down into the rabbit hole, as he quickly discovers a much larger geopolitical conspiracy and terrifying end game. As always, the writers do a fine job toeing the line of using their military backgrounds to inject gripping authenticity into the fold, all the while being careful to not overdo some of the lingo and jargon that casual readers might not understand. 

While comparable to other fictional task forces (like Vince Flynn’s the Orion Team, Brad Thor’s Apex Project, Brad Taylor’s the Taskforce, and Tom Clancy’s The Campus), Ember remains a great unit that Andrews and Wilson continue to develop here. While they’ve continuously found ways to keep Ember fresh and different enough that it feels unique, the real difference is John Dempsey. Once a SEAL named Jack Kemper, Dempsey has sacrificed everything, willingly leaving behind his old life and family to become a ghost–capable of meeting bad guys in the shadows, turning the tables and giving them a reason to be afraid of the dark.

Equal parts Brad Taylor and Mark Greaney, Andrews and Wilson have quickly established themselves as a major force in the thriller genre, and American Operator is some of their finest work yet.

Book Details

Author: Andrews & Wilson
Series: John Dempsey #4
Pages: 426 (Paperback)
ISBN: 1503904423
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer 
Release Date: November 6, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 8.5/10




Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) 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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