The Island (Dewey Andreas #9), by Ben Coes

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Ben Coes, and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Whenever Ben Coes decides to publish something, fans of political thrillers should take notice. Coes is able to mix wonderful political backstories with intense strategic fighting in novels that show just how important agents of the CIA can be in the protection of America. In this latest from the Dewey Andreas series, it would appear that the Republic of Iran has been working with Hezbollah to strike terror into the hearts of Americans with a plot like no other. Before doing so, someone will have it remove Andreas from the equation. While this is undertaken, it’s a close call, but nothing will deter Hezbollah from their plan. Targeting the sitting US president, they set their sights on Manhattan, as the UN General Assembly is expecting the Leader of the Free World to speak. What follows is a harrowing tale that pushes Andreas to act swiftly, trying to save America from what could be its worst attack yet. Sensational writing in a series that keeps getting better.

Dewey Andreas is a man who is known around the world for his protection of America. A CIA operative, Andreas has foiled plots hatched by some of the world’s most ruthless countries and assassinated many who needed to die. However, with this fame comes a large target on his back, something the leadership within the Republic of Iran wish to highlight. While working with Hezbollah the Iranians concoct a plan to bring America to its knees and see Dewey Andreas dead, but it will take precise planning for it to work.

While Andreas is targeted, he narrowly escapes and agrees to a unique bit of R&R with a woman he is getting to know. While he’s resting up, all eyes are on New York City, where US President Dellenbaugh is set to address the UN General Assembly. As POTUS makes his way there, hundreds of Hezbollah fighters are strategically positioned to take out all access to Manhattan when they explode massive bombs in each of the found tunnels connecting it to the rest of the city.

As Dellenbaugh is inside the UN, additional forces storm ther building, leaving many dead as they push to reach the Great Satan. Dellenbaugh, a past sports star, wants to defend himself, but soon discovers that these are men on a mission, willing to die for their cause. As the game of cat and mouse commences, many scramble to find safety amidst all the chaos.

Dewey Andreas and a few of his fellow agents are called into duty, as the true nature of the attack becomes clearer. It will take strategy and patience to locate POTUS and ensure his safety, all while killing those who seek to bring America down. Andreas always puts country before anything else, so it will take little to convince him. However, with Dellenbaugh severely injured, this might be too little too late. All the while, something’s up with the Federal Reserve!

There’s nothing that compares to the work of Ben Coes, particularly when he is on his game. This is the ninth novel in the series, which has not lost any of its intensity or intrigue. Dewey Andreas is in fine form and shows why he is a key character in the genre, happy to help his country in whatever way possible. Adding some intense political drama and a secondary plot to keep the reader enthralled, Coes shows why he belongs with other household names in the thriller genre.

Those who have followed the series will know that Dewey Andreas has a hard shell that is all but impossible to penetrate. However, once you do, there is much depth to the man. His rough exterior is a front, but also a means of keeping his focussed on the task at hand, usually protecting the country and its institutions. Andreas shows why he is a stellar part of the CIA, with some great character development and a few threads left untied for future novels.

The cast of secondary characters is, as usual, top notch and shows that Ben Coes is always thinking. There are a number of individuals who have been along for the ride throughout the series, as well as some one-offs, all of whom add depth and flavour to the story. The intensity of the piece is furthered by the development of these men and women on both sides of the good/evil divide, which keeps the reader flipping pages just to discover what adventures await them.

As with many of the past novels, this is a highly addictive story that keeps moving without hesitation. The narrative flows well, told primarily in a single day, and keeps the reader wanting more. The multi-faceted plot is perfect for the book and makes the story come to life. Short chapters are timestamped to show the minute-by-minute progression of the action, which only makes the reader want to read more to discover what’s to come. I could not pull myself away from this book, bingeing it whenever I could. This is surely one of the best in the series and treats a threat to the US as something plausible with many moving parts. Series fans will not be disappointed, though those who are not well-versed on Dewey Andreas really ought to start at the beginning in order to capture many of the nuances.

Kudos, Mr. Coes, for a stellar piece of writing. You’ve made a fan out of me long ago and I hope others can echo my sentiments.

Be sure to check for my review, first posted on Mystery and Suspense, as well as a number of other insightful comments by other reviewers.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

The Russian (Rob Tacoma #1), by Ben Coes

Seven stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Ben Coes, and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Steeped in politics, both recent and from the Cold War era, Ben Coes is back with a new thriller that is sure to provide his fans with something about which to talk for a while. When two prominent US politicians are assassinated on American soil within minutes of one another, many suspect a planned hit. Tracing the histories of both men back to battling the Russian Mafia, many are sure this is retribution, organized by the powerful Odessa Mafia that has been controlling cities around the country for years. Feeling that there is an ongoing threat within the country that is only getting stronger, POTUS enacts a little-known codicil to the US Constitution, which will permit the ultimate retribution. After receiving the needed approval by a congressional group, a two-man team is assembled to act off the books, hunting for those responsible for the killings. One of these two is Rob Tacoma, former CIA operative who wants nothing to do with the plan. However, when something goes wrong, he sees red and will do all in his power to avenge those slain by these Russians. The hunt is on and there are truly layers of false leads, while Tacoma seeks those responsible, including the elusive Kaiser. There will be blood and bodies, but all that seems minor, as Tacoma is driven, perhaps just as much as Dewey Andreas, who is detached from this adventure. Full of twists and turns, Coes shows that he is in touch with the genre and knows how to spin a powerful tale. Recommended to those who have enjoyed some of Coes past novels, as well as readers who enjoy spy thrillers.

I have long been a fan of Ben Coes and cannot get enough of Dewey Andreas. However, I have to be patient and turn my attention to Rob Tacoma, a minor character in the past who takes a front and centre role here. Tacoma seeks the quiet life, away from the bullets and bloodletting, but seems to be pulled back in when America needs him most. Sounds like Andreas, no? With little time for backstory, Coes injects Tacoma into the middle of this adventure, pushing the limits at every opportunity. With his determination and timely delivery of ‘gun justice’, Tacoma knows what needs doing and acts swiftly. Others around him serve to keep the story going, through the layers of Russians are always interesting to see, particularly the way in which Coes portrays them throughout the narrative. With short chapters and wonderful narrative momentum, Coes pushes the story along. While I cannot completely decipher why, I felt this piece lost a little of the sharp edge with which Dewey Andreas novels have come to be known. Still, I was able to progress through in short order. A great summer read, as the pages seem to melt away. I cannot wait to see what Coes has in store next!

Kudos, Mr. Coes, for another great book. While perhaps not the best, we all need a little downtime, like Dewey!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

Bloody Sunday (Dewey Andreas #8), by Ben Coes

Nine stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Ben Coes, and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

A fan of Ben Coes, I could not wait to get my hands on this latest Dewey Andreas thriller, which did not fall short in any way. After some of Dewey’s most harrowing experiences, he is ready to hang-up his gun and check out. The events surrounding the murder of his wife have proven to be too much for him and he dreams of nothing but life in the countryside. Trouble is, no one else seems to have that same dream for Dewey and hope he has a little more juice inside to run a few more ‘essential’ missions. When MI6 sends a top mission architect to the CIA, Jenna Hartford is somewhat bitter, but willing to try things on the other side of the Pond. Significant intel shows that the North Koreans have been stirring up the pot in the region with their nuclear testing and have a covert meeting planned in Macau with the Iranians. What these two American foes have to say and what plans might come for this remains unknown, but Hartford has an idea about how to extract it. Dewey is the key to its success, though he remains fixated on life after the Agency. A singlet persuasive chat changes his mind, if only for a time, and he agrees to make his way to the ‘Asian Las Vegas’, where the highest-ranking North Korean General awaits. While trying to execute a plan to force the news from the lips of the General, Dewey is struck with the same weapon and has only a short time to counteract the measure. The CIA learns a snippet of what North Korea has in store and it is nothing short of disaster, in a strike codenamed ‘Bloody Sunday’. Now, Dewey must try to stay alive and save himself before he can turn his attention to America, all while infiltrating the North Korean border, where spies and traitors are killed before breakfast. All eyes are on Dewey, as the countdown clock reaches its perilous final moments. Coes has done it again and brilliantly entertains readers in this fast-paced thriller sure to impress. Recommended for those who love the series and readers who cannot get enough political thrillers with an espionage twist.

I always look forward to a Ben Coes thriller, as I never know what to expect. Full of political and spy-based branch-offs, Coes always injects just the right amount of dry wit and suspense to keep me coming back. In the early stages of the book, the reader sees some interesting happenings inside North Korea and a flame lit under its dictator with a plan to finally strike on US soil. Counter that with Dewey Andreas, who is hellbent on avenging the life of his wife, and the story could not get more intense if it tried. Andreas has long be a rogue character, none more than at this point in time. He is fuelled by revenge and wants nothing more than to strike at the heart of those who have wronged him. However, he still has a little something left in him and Coes portrays his protagonist as being steel-willed to the very end, making moves that few could expect to work. The introduction of Jenna Hartford has its own interesting spins, though the reader will have to take the time to see what Coes has in store for her. She is surely an interesting addition to to series and, should she remain, could prove interesting. The handful of secondary characters add flavour to an already spicy novel and allows the reader to feel in the middle of the action. The story is great, though the nuclear threat is by no means a new theme in the genre. However, Coes goes about it in a wonderful manner and portrays both the North Koreans and Americans in a light I have not seen. The intensity of the narrative and the action build within it to reach the climax is wonderful and keeps the reader guessing and hoping. As an unrelated aside, those who have read the short story that Coes released ahead of this novel, Shooting Gallery, may notice that this novel (#8), actually precedes the short story (labelled as #7.5) from a chronological point of view. Both stories run independently to one another, so there is no risk of spoilers, but I did notice that early on and promised to put it into my review. There is never a lack of excitement when Coes at the wheel and I can only hope that more novels are in the works, even with a different character base after the North Korean fallout.

Kudos, Mr. Coes, for a stunning addition to the series. I am addicted and cannot wait to see what else you have in store for your fans.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

Shooting Gallery (Dewey Andreas #7.5), by Ben Coes

Seven stars

Ahead of this summer’s latest full-length Dewey Andreas thriller, Ben Coes teases the reader with a short story with his high-octane protagonist. Andreas is down in Mexico, helping to facilitate a ransom payment and letting off a little steam. However, whenever Dewey wants to relax, trouble seems to follow him and it’s a bloodbath to some degree. When the newly sworn-in US vice-president’s son is kidnapped and held in Mexico, a few calls are made and Dewey is tasked with trying to facilitate a covert recovery. Heart still pumping from a barroom brawl, Dewey targets the likely location of the victims and sets a plan in motion. A tense situation could get worse, unless Dewey’s on his toes throughout the harrowing rescue attempt. Coes whets the appetite of his series fans and offers a teaser of the upcoming novel, sure to be as exciting as ever. Those who love Dewey Andreas pieces will surely enjoy this story, which helps lessen the waiting time until the explosive operative can entertain again.

I enjoy Ben Coes and his writing, hoping that his ideas continue to propel Dewey Andreas to new heights. While this was a short piece, the reader is tossed into the middle of the adventure and given no time to relax. Andreas is a rock-hard operative who just wants to enjoy a little downtime, though it seems to pass him by at every turn. With a new political player in the narrative, one can only wonder if this will prove to be a thorn in Andreas’ side over the next few novels. However, at this point, the narrative helps develop a few characters effectively enough to keep the reader satisfied, if only for a short time. The story was decent, though its brevity turned the rescue mission into something as swift as a flash-bang grenade reaction, tying off all the needed loose ends before the reader can truly enjoy what’s taking place. One might say that the bar fight that preceded this mission had more content to it, leaving the climactic event seem almost an essential afterthought. That being said, it has me ready to devour the next Dewey Andreas novel, which awaits me now.

Kudos, Mr. Coes, for this short piece that pulls no punches. I am happy to have stumbled upon this one and hope the novel is as exciting as this short piece.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

Trap the Devil (Dewey Andreas #7), by Ben Coes

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Ben Coes, and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Ben Coes brings Dewey Andreas back for yet another explosive thriller that will have series fans sitting on the edge of their seats. During an FBI operation in Toronto, a group is seen entering a local mosque and killing everyone inside; their intent, to rid the world of Muslims under any circumstances. This foreshadows a larger and much more ominous plan that could soon play out within America. Meanwhile, Dewey Andreas is still trying to come to terms with everything that happened on his last mission, forced to synthesize his thoughts and actions with a psychotherapist. While the recommendation is that Andreas take some time off behind a desk, he negotiates a calmer mission, sent to France to protect the Secretary of State during a tension-filled secret meeting. The Secretary is visited by a woman who delivers an explosive terror plot, though Andreas cannot make it back before someone is sent to assassinate the Secretary. By the time he returns, Andreas learns his gun was used in the killings and he is detained. While being interrogated, Andreas must do all he can to get out and catch the killer, suspecting that elusive woman he saw in the vicinity. After organizing an escape, Andreas begins his hunt for the truth, but INTERPOL’s release of his prison escape alerts the world to his status and presents his key enemies with a chance to locate him and end his life once and for all. With key the deaths of key political figures imminent, Andreas must work within the CIA and use his own intuition to find those who plan to overthrow the country’s stability. Andreas has enemies coming from all sides, leaving him to fight both those known and unknown to nullify the plot before it is too late. A wonderfully fast-paced thriller that will keep series fans begging for more and could easily lure new readers into starting this fabulous series.

Ben Coes has the ability to craft a strong political thriller without getting caught up in all the fodder that seems to be a common theme within the genre at present. While ISIS was once the buzz topic, a shift to explore the other side, homegrown terror cells to rid the world of Islam seems to be a new take and one that works well for Coes as he places Dewey Andreas in the centre of the firestorm. Andreas is a complex character, a tough exterior that acts to protect a man who has suffered much loss. Adding an interesting cast of characters to complement and offset Andreas, Coes has been able to keep the flow of the story strong and the plot from lagging. Speaking of plot, the story moves forward on many levels simultaneously, with Andreas in the crosshairs as he tries to foil a plan that could change the entire political landscape in one afternoon alongside the race to exterminate a woman who has all the secrets garnered from an overheard conversation. The reader races through the short chapters to find out just what awaits, unsure if Andreas might have finally met his match. Coes shows why he is the master of his genre as he crafts the perfect summer novel that will leave readers looking over the shoulder at every turn. 

Kudos, Mr. Coes for another sensational piece of work. I will surely be promoting it to anyone who might want to inject a little thrill into their reading.