A book-long puzzle about how and when an enemy will attack, a crack team with encyclopedic knowledge and whip-smart counter procedures at-the-ready, a bit of romance—this is what we expect from international thrillers, and that is what Defcon One delivers. It’s not Bond-style with all sorts of glamour and outlandish action. The book takes you through an exploration grounded in reality—what if North Korea pushed their ambitions a bit here and there? Everything in the book having to do with North Korea is fascinating—trying to get into their thought processes, trying to exert leverage, and maybe a bit of revenge. And how exactly does Iran figure in all of this? World domination strategies may collide, and certainly pose, interesting what-ifs.
Alan Joubert finds himself called back into action—again. We never tire of seeing the old team come together and make sure nobody is dissed. Their mission is truly jaw-dropping, with incredible obstacles and existential risks continually popping up. Alan, et al., are rung out and even periodically arrive at death’s door, trying to figure out the whole evil but ingenious plan. Their guesses aren’t so bad though—even the final one that involves Spain and what to do about a peculiar aspect of nature located there.
I kind of like it when Alan shows a bit more of his personality. At one point, early on, when the team had to figure out what was going on, “He was getting restless with all of this office work. He was a field operator and was struggling to handle the never-ending sitting around and just talking about things.” I would have liked to see more of this side of these extreme action heroes.
At another point, Senior Chief Rundle had to give some of the team what-for at the hospital. Yes, we admire the operators and cheer them on, but they are human and mess up just like everybody else. It makes one think what are the priorities in extreme situations?
It was somewhat puzzling that Alan and his team had so little real communication with the rest of the national security establishment, including the executive branch, until near the end. There is some flavor of the all-action operators pushing back against ill-founded opposition, but I would have liked for there to have been more. Seeing operators match wits with naysayers and bureaucrats while simultaneously fixing everything is just fun.
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|Mystery, Crime, Thriller