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John Wells goes undercover in Saudi Arabia in a cutting-edge novel of modern suspense from the #1 New York Times-bestselling author. John Wells may have left the CIA, but it hasn't left him. A mysterious call brings a surprise meeting with the aged monarch of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah. "My kingdom is on a precipice," he tells Wells. "Powerful factions are plotting aga John Wells goes undercover in Saudi Arabia in a cutting-edge novel of modern suspense from the #1 New York Times-bestselling author. John Wells may have left the CIA, but it hasn't left him. A mysterious call brings a surprise meeting with the aged monarch of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah. "My kingdom is on a precipice," he tells Wells. "Powerful factions are plotting against me, and my own family is in danger. I don't know who I can trust, but I'm told I can trust you."Reluctantly, and with the secret blessing of the CIA, Wells goes undercover; but the more he learns, the more complicated things become, and soon he, too, is unsure whom to trust, in Saudi Arabia or Washington. One thing, however, is clear: If the conspirators prevail, it will mean more than the fall of a monarch-it may be the beginning of the final conflagration between America and Islam.


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John Wells goes undercover in Saudi Arabia in a cutting-edge novel of modern suspense from the #1 New York Times-bestselling author. John Wells may have left the CIA, but it hasn't left him. A mysterious call brings a surprise meeting with the aged monarch of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah. "My kingdom is on a precipice," he tells Wells. "Powerful factions are plotting aga John Wells goes undercover in Saudi Arabia in a cutting-edge novel of modern suspense from the #1 New York Times-bestselling author. John Wells may have left the CIA, but it hasn't left him. A mysterious call brings a surprise meeting with the aged monarch of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah. "My kingdom is on a precipice," he tells Wells. "Powerful factions are plotting against me, and my own family is in danger. I don't know who I can trust, but I'm told I can trust you."Reluctantly, and with the secret blessing of the CIA, Wells goes undercover; but the more he learns, the more complicated things become, and soon he, too, is unsure whom to trust, in Saudi Arabia or Washington. One thing, however, is clear: If the conspirators prevail, it will mean more than the fall of a monarch-it may be the beginning of the final conflagration between America and Islam.

30 review for The Secret Soldier

  1. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Audet

    I finished Alex's book yesterday, I was sorry it ended. As a writer myself I enjoyed this book very much for writerly reasons and, as a fan of the genre Alex is re-defining, it will be one of the "books of the year" for 2011. Alex took some chances most safer writers still won't take with certain issues and his fearlessness in character portrayal is inspiring, giving a sincere depth to the story. Sub-plots are seamless and barely detectable, simmering close to the surface all the way to the last I finished Alex's book yesterday, I was sorry it ended. As a writer myself I enjoyed this book very much for writerly reasons and, as a fan of the genre Alex is re-defining, it will be one of the "books of the year" for 2011. Alex took some chances most safer writers still won't take with certain issues and his fearlessness in character portrayal is inspiring, giving a sincere depth to the story. Sub-plots are seamless and barely detectable, simmering close to the surface all the way to the last page. It's not predictable, the plot twists keep you rolling through the pages to see what will happen and John Wells twists and turns inside himself too right along with it. Great craftsmanship and top notch story telling! I recommend this book for all the best and right reasons, I'm sure this will be one of the notable bestsellers of 2011. 200+ pages in, I get more excited with each page I turn. Our hero John Wells is up to his ears in international intrigue. He and his team are hitting exotic locations as they close in on the mystery and people behind a horrific series of attacks. Twists and turns keep John on his toes as he ends up in the middle of nowhere ready to take on the bad guys. Great action! Alex brings a lot to the table with this book as the dimensions of John Wells expand and deepen with this installment. Back story and sub-plot are seamless and flow naturally as does the dialogue and narrative. Berenson is truly at his best in this book, I highly recommend it, it's due out the first week in Feb. Pick up The Midnight House, out now in hardcover. I'm over a hundred pages in and the action is still thick, in fact it's getting thicker - as if that were possible. Our hero, John Wells is headed into the middle of evil mayhem on a global scale and possible death and we would expect nothing less. I'm not going to give the story away but Alex manages to take us into the personal side of John Wells making us feel like we're in his head feeling his confidence, his anger and his pain as we plan with him to go storming into battle. Very well done in terms of writing with great pace, narration, and, the dialogue is tight, to the point and informative. This is major thriller writing at it's best, folks, from the technical angle and from a pure entertainment angle too! Berenson has the smooth, rich style, top level authors develop - like David Baldacci or Steve Berry - while not sparing the brutal reality of experiences a man like John Wells will go through. Be sure to catch up on the John Wells series starting with Alex's breakout smash hit bestseller The Faithful Spy, a book I agree with reviewers and major critics who say it is a true classic espionage thriller. Then, all the way through to The Midnight House, which is in hardcover release now. More on this later, I'm off to do some reading! Ok, I'm starting Alex Berenson's "The Secret Soldier" today. This is one of the most anticipated books in any fiction series of the modern thriller/espionage genre. Of which, Alex has established himself very quickly as a major player, having starting with the blockbuster bestseller "The Faithful Spy." John Wells has become the poster guy character for action thrillers and it looks like Berenson is on his game with this edition too. I am one of the lucky few to have gotten an advance copy (signed by Alex, Thank You Sir!) of The Secret Soldier about a week ago and saved it till things calmed down around the ranch enough to where I could immerse myself in what I am SURE will be one of 2011's biggest bestsellers in ALL formats including eBook. There's something special about the hardcover edition of a notable and memorable bestseller and this one definitely qualifies. I'm a writer myself and an avid fan of Alex Berenson and this genre and I also believe in supporting my industry and book buying is one way I do it. Pick up a copy of "The Midnight House" and follow John Wells into his next mission "The Secret Soldier" due out early in 2011. Stay tuned for my update reviews as I read this book! I'm looking forward to reading Alex's next release, "The Secret Soldier", having read every book in the series so far, including his current hardcover release "The Midnight House". I'll let you know!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mal Warwick

    Alex Berenson's espionage novels about American soldier-spy John Wells are timely and topical. They invariably give the reader an intimate, insider's look at the U.S. intelligence establishment. And they reflect Berenson's extensive travels as a foreign correspondent for the New York Times as well as his superior research skills. The author's descriptions of the exotic settings where he places his novels are minutely detailed. They're seemingly impossible to describe unless he has spent time on- Alex Berenson's espionage novels about American soldier-spy John Wells are timely and topical. They invariably give the reader an intimate, insider's look at the U.S. intelligence establishment. And they reflect Berenson's extensive travels as a foreign correspondent for the New York Times as well as his superior research skills. The author's descriptions of the exotic settings where he places his novels are minutely detailed. They're seemingly impossible to describe unless he has spent time on-site. The Secret Soldier, the fifth book in the John Wells series, takes the reader behind the scenes inside the Saudi royal family, a radical Islamist organization bent on jihadi, and the complex web of decision-making in which the CIA, the NSA, the Pentagon, and the White House are all involved when foreign crises erupt. As The Secret Soldier opens, a Saudi jihadist cell massacres the young people at a popular bar in Bahrain. Simultaneously, two other sites, both inside Saudi Arabia, are attacked, with lethal consequences. These terrorist attacks represent a dangerous threat to the Saudi monarchy. King Abdullah must take action to forestall additional attacks—but he can't trust his own security forces. Enter John Wells. Now well into his forties and retired from the CIA, soldier-spy John Wells simply cannot resist any opportunity to chase after danger. Together with an old Special Forces colleague, Wells has gone off to chase a rogue CIA agent in Jamaica. Now a mysterious phone call draws him into the orbit of the Saudi royal family. John Wells has years of experience both as a soldier and a spy. "He knew who he was," Berenson writes, "what he'd done. After so much violence, killing came to him naturally. He'd always imagined that he could take off the killer's mask as he wished. But he feared the mask had become his face." The scene shifts rapidly from Bahrain to Riyadh to North Conway New Hampshire to Montego Bay and on and on. Berenson's story moves along all across the globe at a blistering pace. The author writes at some length about the Saudi royal family and the divisions within it. The oil wealth the country's fields generate is difficult to comprehend. As he explains, after all the expenses for running a country that covers almost as much territory as the United States east of the Mississippi, "at least fifty billion dollars remained every year for the family to divide. Every prince received a stipend. Third- and fourth-generation princelings got $20,000 to $100,000 a month. Senior princes received millions of dollars a year. At the top, Abdullah and the other sons of Abdul-Aziz had essentially unlimited budgets. Abdullah's Red Sea palace complex in Jeddah had cost more than a billion dollars." To put this information into perspective, note that the Saudi royal family consists of some 15,000 people, although most of the wealth goes to about 2,000 of them. Berenson also offers a glimpse into the NSA, which in its early days was known as "No Such," since its very existence was classified. "The NSA monitored phone calls, e-mails, instant messages, Facebook updates—a digital tidal wave. Tens of billions of messages, open and encrypted, were sent every day. The NSA spent massive energy just figuring out which ones to try to crack. At any time, one-third of its computers were deciding what the other two-thirds should do."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tay

    My least favorite book from Berenson. Very slow with a lot of history lesson about Islam, oil, and the Middle East.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    An excellent espionage thriller from the ex New York Times reporter Alex Berenson. His hero John Wells is out of the CIA and on his own living in Vermont, but he keeps his toe in the spy business. Wells is not all seeing all doing killer who can vanquish 5 foes in an instant, but he is not afraid to get his hands dirty in the New World Order that we live in. So when a friend comes to him about a spy who has strayed off the reservation and betrayed his country, Wells is all to willing to journey An excellent espionage thriller from the ex New York Times reporter Alex Berenson. His hero John Wells is out of the CIA and on his own living in Vermont, but he keeps his toe in the spy business. Wells is not all seeing all doing killer who can vanquish 5 foes in an instant, but he is not afraid to get his hands dirty in the New World Order that we live in. So when a friend comes to him about a spy who has strayed off the reservation and betrayed his country, Wells is all to willing to journey to Jamaica to find the spy, who is selling drugs. His tradecraft is still top notch and he and his colleague, a younger soldier/spy track down the ex spy. Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, a new splinter cell of terrorists has struck at a bar selling to American workers and servicemen in Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah, ill and paranoid, is convinced that this new terror cell is backed by other members of the royal family, who are upset that he wants his son Khalid to become King after him. Knowing of Wells reputation from earlier books in the series (all winners), Abdullah has a go between contact Wells. They meet in Nice where the King wants Wells to find out about the terrorists, and gives Wells some evidence that King has found, but not shared with other members of his family, who he suspects, and who control the National Intelligence. Wells agrees and goes into Lebanon aided by his former boss in the CIA, and also aided by the head of the CIA, who wants Wells to go where the CIA cannot and do what the CIA cannot. Meanwhile the terrorists strike a blow against America itself and kidnap and important personage and it ends up Wells job to see if he can find the American prisoner before its too late. The Secret Soldier is so good because it tells about the real world of terrorism, and the middle east, and the leaders there. Its real politics and real spy work and real to the nth degree and we follow Wells' instincts as the secret soldier employed by the Saudis tries to desperately find the American prisoner. The world is not a pretty place and frankly the ending of the book should come as no surprise to people who follow the real news and not fanastical stories with happy happy endings. A good fast read and a good spy novel.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Good action-packed spy tale, with John embroiled in Saudi royalty intrigue.

  6. 4 out of 5

    wally

    six oh five pee em 24th of february 2018 saturday evening...still light out...days getting longer, just finished good read four stars i really liked it kindle library loaner. saudi arabia...lebanon...cyprus...france/italy...u.s.a. john wells, superhero. heh! fifth one now, been reading in chronological order...he gets banged up some but yeah, it's okay...were he to die that'd be the end, right? onto something else for a time now... six oh five pee em 24th of february 2018 saturday evening...still light out...days getting longer, just finished good read four stars i really liked it kindle library loaner. saudi arabia...lebanon...cyprus...france/italy...u.s.a. john wells, superhero. heh! fifth one now, been reading in chronological order...he gets banged up some but yeah, it's okay...were he to die that'd be the end, right? onto something else for a time now...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jerome

    A review by The Providence Journal Bulletin on the dust jacket of this book, suggests that Berenson's earlier novel, "The Silent Man" quote, 'elevated him to the rarefied league of Vince Flynn', unquote. This preposterous statement only goes to highlight the problem of newspaper 'journalists' writing book reviews. Don't get me wrong, I am not being critical of Vince Flynn as a writer. I have read most of his work & he can be a very entertaining writer of action thrillers. His hero, Mitch Rapp, c A review by The Providence Journal Bulletin on the dust jacket of this book, suggests that Berenson's earlier novel, "The Silent Man" quote, 'elevated him to the rarefied league of Vince Flynn', unquote. This preposterous statement only goes to highlight the problem of newspaper 'journalists' writing book reviews. Don't get me wrong, I am not being critical of Vince Flynn as a writer. I have read most of his work & he can be a very entertaining writer of action thrillers. His hero, Mitch Rapp, charges into action with the Stars & Stripes flying, & guns blazing. He typifies the all-American hero that features in so many thrillers coming from American authors these days. BUT, let me say that patriotic fodder such as this does not a good spy thriller writer make! Flynn's storylines are generally predictable & limited in scope, with action the prime component. A sort of wham, bam, thank you ma'am, if you like. On the other hand, Berenson's plotting is meticulous, often complicated, & demanding of the reader's attention, and his characters interesting & extensively developed. Flynn's hero appears to be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, whereas, Berenson's John Wells is a flawed character, cautious, & often seemingly introspective. A methodical man, & yet in some ways, an enigma; more human than Flynn's Rapp. It is authors of the calibre of Berenson who will carry the torch of superior espionage fiction, first flamed by the likes of LeCarre, Forsyth, Deighton & McCarry. Once again, Berenson doesn't disappoint. Alex Berenson keeps getting better as an author (and I already liked his work)! In a genre not known for its subtlety, Alex Berenson brings us an introspective but still very tough leading man, a tough-as-nails hero who can see his own flaws. There's nuance and subtlety in his story, and that's what makes this book special. It's not the simplistic good guy-bad guy story that usually dominates this genre; instead, we feel the complexity of the real world and the difficulty of truly deadly situations. The good guys don't always come out on top, and the heroes aren't perfect, but there's plenty to cheer for in this terrific book! Berenson has an almost unequaled grasp of, and ability to convey, the intricacies and complexities of the Middle Eastern Islamic culture. It's all too common for books and movies to portray the region's dynamic over-simplistically, missing a lot of the nuance that animates the people from the area, with the consequence that characters are usually at least somewhat two-dimensional (to those who know) if not downright cartoonish. (Incidentally, a problem that also adheres to our "professionals" in government who are tasked with our foreign policy, if I may editorialize for just a moment. None of them seem to have any real understanding of the region. But I digress) Berenson's characters are all fully realized. They act believably. His pacing is flawless, and the story carries us from the US to Europe to Saudi Arabia and environs. He believably blends real-life people (King Abdullah) with thinly-veiled characters based on other real-life people (Saeed, among others) with completely fictional characters, and carries it off without a blip. All adds to the credibility of the story. And there's plenty of action for adrenaline junkies, too. The Secret Soldier" once again follows the personal and professional drama of John Wells, former CIA operative in Afghanistan and elsewhere. He's a free-wheeling man, disenchanted with the torturous ways of war, and yet he wrestles with his own desire to use violence and release emotion. He is still in a relationship with Anne, though it's more perfunctory and phone-based, with little to add a spark. He thinks of his son once or twice throughout the entire book. His main attention seems focused on understanding his own faith as a Muslim, while fighting terrorists based in extremes of that same religion. This time around, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are at the center of things. Political intrigue is taking place among the princes of the House of Saud, threatening the Saudi stability and, thereby, oil production and world stability. Tensions at the top are further exacerbated by a splinter group led by an Islamic extremist. From a massacre in a nightclub to the death of a royal to a political kidnapping, there are plenty of reasons for this book to move quickly and suspensefully. So why did it leave me unmoved, often disinterested and detached? A survivor of the early massacre reappears early on in the book, then seems to disappear again, his presence never really explained--despite a lot of pages given to that particular scenario. Wells, our intrepid hero, bounces from location to location, including an entire portion given to the Bahamas that ends up having nothing to do with the plot. Throughout, he seems one step removed from the most important action, until the end--and even there he becomes almost immaterial. The Saudi king and his princes seem to take up a lot of the story, though it's hard to care for any of them. Lots of things happen in the story, but in the end I just wasn't that concerned about any of them. As always, Berenson gives great details and weaves a timely tale, but it's only when he draws me into the personal struggles of Wells and those around him that I connect on a deeper level.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

    This is one of the best thriller series I've ever come across. The protagonist, John Wells, is one of the best characters to come along in a long time. He is a former CIA agent, who was able to penetrate Al Queda in Afghanistan, by among other things, converting to Islam. After his cover was blown, he left the CIA and has gone on his own. In this chapter of the series, John Wells is hired by the King of Saudi Arabia to help determine who is behind a series of terrorist attacks in the kingdom tha This is one of the best thriller series I've ever come across. The protagonist, John Wells, is one of the best characters to come along in a long time. He is a former CIA agent, who was able to penetrate Al Queda in Afghanistan, by among other things, converting to Islam. After his cover was blown, he left the CIA and has gone on his own. In this chapter of the series, John Wells is hired by the King of Saudi Arabia to help determine who is behind a series of terrorist attacks in the kingdom that are intended to destroy the relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia and eventually lead to a US invasion of the country. While this book is full of action and thrills, the author, Alex Berenson, a former New York Times reporter, also explores the complex relationship between the US and many Middle Eastern states. In art imitating life, those same discussions are going on right now. If you are a fan of the thriller genre, I highly recommend this book and the entire series. You won't be disappointed.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jodi

    Despite George Guidall's always brilliant narration and the general timeliness of the story - the old king in Saudi Arabia wants to change the succession rules so that his own son sits on the throne upon his death which causes major consternation among the king's cousins - I never connected with the story. Former CIA agent John Wells is brought into the picture by the King himself who wants Wells to find proof that it is the King's cousin who is behind the spate of recent terrorist attacks aroun Despite George Guidall's always brilliant narration and the general timeliness of the story - the old king in Saudi Arabia wants to change the succession rules so that his own son sits on the throne upon his death which causes major consternation among the king's cousins - I never connected with the story. Former CIA agent John Wells is brought into the picture by the King himself who wants Wells to find proof that it is the King's cousin who is behind the spate of recent terrorist attacks around the Arab nations. But it becomes an international incident when the American Ambassador is kidnapped. Though action packed, I found the story confusing and vaguely unsatisfying. Though I suppose much like the Middle East, it doesn't have a firm ending and there are no easy answers. I will not be rushing to read more, however.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    John Wells may have quit his job with the CIA, but he still finds plenty of opportunities to put his skillset to use. A mysterious invitation brings him face to face with the King of Saudi Arabia, who is in need of an independent contractor able to covertly look into troubles he is experiencing with dangerous strife within the royal family and a series of devastating terror attacks across the Middle East - issues that might very well be connected. The extremely unlikely premise itself aside, this John Wells may have quit his job with the CIA, but he still finds plenty of opportunities to put his skillset to use. A mysterious invitation brings him face to face with the King of Saudi Arabia, who is in need of an independent contractor able to covertly look into troubles he is experiencing with dangerous strife within the royal family and a series of devastating terror attacks across the Middle East - issues that might very well be connected. The extremely unlikely premise itself aside, this was one of the best books in the series so far IMO. I like that this didn't turn out to have the usual perfect "action hero saves the day" Hollywood happy ending - the series is at its best when it takes steps to avoid those dime-a-dozen tropes.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mr. Gottshalk

    John Wells is an interesting American spy who was so undercover in the past that he was totally off the grid, and is now not employed by the CIA at all...even though he has connections. He is on the run, cavorting around the Middle East trying to find some Saudis who want to pull the US into a war. The book is just complicated enough as to where I couldn't follow it 100% of the time, and just uninteresting enough for me to not care a whole lot about the side characters. And yet I will read all t John Wells is an interesting American spy who was so undercover in the past that he was totally off the grid, and is now not employed by the CIA at all...even though he has connections. He is on the run, cavorting around the Middle East trying to find some Saudis who want to pull the US into a war. The book is just complicated enough as to where I couldn't follow it 100% of the time, and just uninteresting enough for me to not care a whole lot about the side characters. And yet I will read all these books in the series, and compare him to Mitch Rapp, Jason Bourne and James Bond.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Thea

    This one might just not have been my cup of tea.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bryan

    I enjoy the lead character John Wells. Excellent plot!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rob Smith, Jr.

    I’m against the tide of the majority of reviews praising this volume of John Wells fictitious life. Maybe it’s timing that affected my experience reading the book. I also wonder if it’s that I accidently bypassed the volume before this, The Midnight House, that has gotten poor reviews. Whatever the case, I found this book far over written. It’s great when an author has a lot of background for a novel, but that author doesn’t have to put it all in one volume. To me, the book dragged horribly with I’m against the tide of the majority of reviews praising this volume of John Wells fictitious life. Maybe it’s timing that affected my experience reading the book. I also wonder if it’s that I accidently bypassed the volume before this, The Midnight House, that has gotten poor reviews. Whatever the case, I found this book far over written. It’s great when an author has a lot of background for a novel, but that author doesn’t have to put it all in one volume. To me, the book dragged horribly with the excess. This is a complaint I have with the majority of contemporary writers I’ve read. I just hadn’t experienced so much coming from Berenson. A good dose of studying Agatha Christie might help. But, I have a feeling the publisher needs to build a $9.99 book and wants the overdone writing. I happen to be reading a Frank Slaughter novel at the same time which has plenty of excess. But it’s so beautifully written and so cogent to the storyline, that it works so very well. Being a better writer would’ve greatly helped Berenson’s extra loads in this. Slaughter is so good that I’m very slowly taking in each line and paragraph. At this rate, I could take a year reading Slaughter’s book and find it time well invested. I found myself wanting to read through The ‘Secret Soldier’ faster just to get it out of the way. It was pretty obvious how the book was going to end and, sad to write, there were no twists to make the reading journey interesting or fun. There is a very good story intertwined in so much else. I wish the book was better assembled to make it enjoyable. There are also some other specifics in the story that bother me, like use of a cell phone, navigating a boat in a certain area, an oddly handled partner for Wells. Seems if a writer is going to over write, maybe fix some other sloppy writing first. One other thing. There is an odd similarity to the basis of this book that is similar to an episode of ‘The Rockford Files’ where even a couple character names are the same. As an editorial cartoonist, I certainly know how duplication exists when creating a story. It just happens. Just found the similarity interesting and thought I’d mention it. Bottom line: I don’t recommend this book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    David

    This series continues to be among my current favorites. It is always fun to read Berenson, who seems to do a lot of real research on the middle east and its politics. Reading this stuff not only enlightens me on spycraft, but the author always provides some real background and there is a really interesting section (about six or seven pages) in which the author educates the reader in regards to the history of Saudai Arabia and its political structure. The action happens at breakneck speed and the This series continues to be among my current favorites. It is always fun to read Berenson, who seems to do a lot of real research on the middle east and its politics. Reading this stuff not only enlightens me on spycraft, but the author always provides some real background and there is a really interesting section (about six or seven pages) in which the author educates the reader in regards to the history of Saudai Arabia and its political structure. The action happens at breakneck speed and the ability of the CIA, etc. to use Wells, even when he is hired by another individual for a private job is chilling. I like the fact that Wells, himself, claims an Islamic faith, even though it is one I think is terribly wrong and I disagree with completely. He sees it as a religion of peace, though he isn't always a practicing Muslim. The fact that there are many hypocritical muslims (who drink, etc.) is very realistic indeed, as there are many of the Christian faith who aren't practicing what they preach either. Okay, there are those "REALLY?" moments when Wells figures out something like the location of a terrorist camp or base of operations with very little to go on... still, the author has to get him to those locations for the action to take place. I was completely willing to go along with those moments for the sake of the story. I like this series almost as much as the Jack Reacher series, perhaps a bit more. Reacher is like the modern day gunfighter, always wandering into some complex tangled conspiracy, usually simply a victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, while Wells always has a valid reason for being somewhere and being drawn into a conflict.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Malia

    Probably my favorite John Wells so far. This time, he is sent or rather called to Saudi Arabia where he becomes entangles with the quarrels of the royal family and grand scale manipulations that could impact the future of Saudi-American relations as well as progress in Saudi Arabia itself. The story is very fast paced and Wells seems a little less unhinged than in some of the other books, where he really ought to have some serious therapy. There is plenty of action, but also plenty of historical Probably my favorite John Wells so far. This time, he is sent or rather called to Saudi Arabia where he becomes entangles with the quarrels of the royal family and grand scale manipulations that could impact the future of Saudi-American relations as well as progress in Saudi Arabia itself. The story is very fast paced and Wells seems a little less unhinged than in some of the other books, where he really ought to have some serious therapy. There is plenty of action, but also plenty of historical info which I found very interesting. One thing I feel I need to remark upon is the blurb on the cover, which promises "Tarantino-style carnage", which would put me off it instantly, had I not read other Berenson books in the past. I am happy to say this little remark was not correct. There is violence, of course, but it isn't gratuitous or unbearably gory. Further, the comparisons to Vince Flynn are inaccurate, in my opinion Berenson is a far superior writer who has created a multi-dimensional character with thoughts and emotions in Wells, rather than the overly gun-happy Mitch Rapp style character. Find more reviews and bookish fun at http://www.princessandpen.com

  17. 4 out of 5

    Linda Munro

    I originally found this author and the John Wells, ex-CIA operative books on goodreads.com; they have quickly become one of my favorite series. This is the fifth book in the series, each is a stand alone book, but it is always better to read them in order. In this novel, Exley, Wells’ former romantic partner is out of the picture, another interest has taken her place; one that seems more attune to John’s undercover work, his inability to let things go. Also, John has cut himself off from the CIA I originally found this author and the John Wells, ex-CIA operative books on goodreads.com; they have quickly become one of my favorite series. This is the fifth book in the series, each is a stand alone book, but it is always better to read them in order. In this novel, Exley, Wells’ former romantic partner is out of the picture, another interest has taken her place; one that seems more attune to John’s undercover work, his inability to let things go. Also, John has cut himself off from the CIA, although he does assure that any terrorist information gets to the agency, even though the agency has promised him nothing in return, not even cover or assistance in time of trouble. In Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah has realized that he is losing his grip on control; he can trust no-one, not his family or his own secret police, so e reaches out to John Wells. John begins to unravel more than a conspiracy to dethrone the King, he learns that a group with what appears unlimited funding is trying to draw America into a Middle Eastern War that they will never be able to win.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    I saw many similarities between John Wells, the hero of this book, and Michael Weston, the main character of one of my favorite TV shows "Burn Notice." Both are former covert operatives who crave action and try to use their unique skills to do good. In this take of international espionage and intrigue, Wells is lured out of retirement by the opportunity to get back into the field in the Middle East and perhaps tip the balance of power a bit. The action is nonstop and the conclusion, when it comes I saw many similarities between John Wells, the hero of this book, and Michael Weston, the main character of one of my favorite TV shows "Burn Notice." Both are former covert operatives who crave action and try to use their unique skills to do good. In this take of international espionage and intrigue, Wells is lured out of retirement by the opportunity to get back into the field in the Middle East and perhaps tip the balance of power a bit. The action is nonstop and the conclusion, when it comes, is very real; not all the issues are resolved and the guilty are not all punished to the full extent of the law. The good guys have to be happy knowing that what they did changed the outcome, just not as significantly as they would have liked. Now that I have been introduced to John Wells in "The Secret Soldier" i will seek out Alex Berenson's other books. Thanks First Reads for introducing me to this author.

  19. 4 out of 5

    GymGuy

    This book has the same issues that the first one has. While the story FINALLY ends pretty well, it takes way too long to get there. After 40%, the story still hadn't taken off. Perhaps I'm a little impatient, but I generally like a story to get itself into gear within the first 25% or so. This one was still giving background lessons in Shia/Sunni differences. While interesting, I'm not reading this for that info. In fact, I'd just as soon that they both blew each other up and saved ourselves a w This book has the same issues that the first one has. While the story FINALLY ends pretty well, it takes way too long to get there. After 40%, the story still hadn't taken off. Perhaps I'm a little impatient, but I generally like a story to get itself into gear within the first 25% or so. This one was still giving background lessons in Shia/Sunni differences. While interesting, I'm not reading this for that info. In fact, I'd just as soon that they both blew each other up and saved ourselves a whole truck full of trouble. Bottom line, if I wanted to read a diatribe on Sunni/Shia/Saudi/US history (which I don't), I'd probably go to a text book written for that purpose, not to a novel. If you take all of this out, and just print the actual story, you'd only have about 100 pages of a short novel.

  20. 5 out of 5

    CuteBadger

    I won this book from the publisher's Facebook page and hadn't heard of the author before. I also wasn't aware of the fact that it is one of a series about the lead character John Wells. It's not my usual type of read, though I love the TV series Spooks which is similar in a lot of ways. It strikes me as more of a "boys' book" than something women enjoy - and yes I do know that's stereotyping and a vast generalisation! I found it gripping enough while I was reading it, but I found the long passages I won this book from the publisher's Facebook page and hadn't heard of the author before. I also wasn't aware of the fact that it is one of a series about the lead character John Wells. It's not my usual type of read, though I love the TV series Spooks which is similar in a lot of ways. It strikes me as more of a "boys' book" than something women enjoy - and yes I do know that's stereotyping and a vast generalisation! I found it gripping enough while I was reading it, but I found the long passages about Middle Eastern history slowed things up a bit and I think I still would have understood what was going on without them. So, all in all I quite enjoyed it, but now, a few days on from finishing it, I don't remember much about it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Byron Lord

    I got this book free from First Reads. This is my honest review: Wow, what a great story. This is my first Berenson book. He is definitely my type of author. John Wells is my type of hero, a man of great character and commitment to doing the right thing. I love the action and intrigue. The story is set in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where internal plotting within the royal family has created a new terrorist organization designed to unseat King Abdulla. The King calls John Wells to find out what I got this book free from First Reads. This is my honest review: Wow, what a great story. This is my first Berenson book. He is definitely my type of author. John Wells is my type of hero, a man of great character and commitment to doing the right thing. I love the action and intrigue. The story is set in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where internal plotting within the royal family has created a new terrorist organization designed to unseat King Abdulla. The King calls John Wells to find out what is going on and the adventure begins. The pace is fast. The insights into the Saudi culture and the royal family are revealing. This is a great read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Alex Berenson does it again. If you haven't read the "John Wells" series, I highly recommend that you start now. Maybe this one hit home because of all the craziness in the region right now, or maybe it's because I have made friends with people who've spent time in Rhiyad and share their stories. Either way, this one might be my favorite of his so far. Alex Berenson does it again. If you haven't read the "John Wells" series, I highly recommend that you start now. Maybe this one hit home because of all the craziness in the region right now, or maybe it's because I have made friends with people who've spent time in Rhiyad and share their stories. Either way, this one might be my favorite of his so far.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Maynard

    This is my first read of an Alex Berenson work, and I am impressed. So impressed, that I turned to pg. 1 of the Prologue last yesterday afternoon, and except for a 15-min. break to gobble down dinner, I read straight through to the end. If you enjoy fast-paced, realistic spy-thrillers set in the mondern era, you must read "The Secret Soldier." This is my first read of an Alex Berenson work, and I am impressed. So impressed, that I turned to pg. 1 of the Prologue last yesterday afternoon, and except for a 15-min. break to gobble down dinner, I read straight through to the end. If you enjoy fast-paced, realistic spy-thrillers set in the mondern era, you must read "The Secret Soldier."

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lewis Weinstein

    Another outstanding John Wells adventure, with plot lines and details as current as recent headlines, some of those headlines occurring AFTER Berenson wrote his story. Of course some of it is impossible - or is it? - but the adrenalin flow trumps any implausibility.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    I was not too thrilled by this thriller. 5 of 10 stars

  26. 4 out of 5

    Clinton Sweet

    A fictitious account depicting the Saudi/US dynamic. Can always just read a factual account

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bob Ryan

    My first Alex Berenson/John Wells thriller. Wells as been called to Saudi Arabia at the request of the royal family to investigate a unidentified terrorist group operating in the country. The story involves as much Saudi politics as it centers around Wells. There's an additional story regarding finding a missing person in Jamaica at the beginning. Other than adding background about the Wells character it wasn't clear why it was there. It may have had a connection to the previous book. It could h My first Alex Berenson/John Wells thriller. Wells as been called to Saudi Arabia at the request of the royal family to investigate a unidentified terrorist group operating in the country. The story involves as much Saudi politics as it centers around Wells. There's an additional story regarding finding a missing person in Jamaica at the beginning. Other than adding background about the Wells character it wasn't clear why it was there. It may have had a connection to the previous book. It could have been a short story on its own. Once the Saudi story begins the Jamaica story falls away I read of number of books in this genre and comparisons are inevitable. The story is more complicated than a Mitch Rapp thriller, but not as deep as a Gabriel Allon story. Wells is far from the Rapp character, he has some sensitivity about his actions and an actual female relationship, but he's not overwrought with guilt as Allon. The book includes a history of Saudi Arabia and the Saud family which I found interesting and enjoyable, but its not as deep as the history lessons you get in the Silva/Allon novels. There's not as much action as a Rapp story, its closer to an Allon story, but that much means the violence means more when it does occur. There's no political flag waving as in the Rapp and Allon. Now I have to locate the first four books in this series and catch up. So many books, so little time...I've seen that somewhere.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Shelley

    In the small country of Bahrain, home to the US Fifth Fleet, and elsewhere around the Persian Gulf region, simultaneous attacks by Muslim terrorists go off like clockwork. These attacks are funded by someone within the House of Saud, for the purpose of bringing the US to war with Saudi Arabia that will lead to the final confrontation between Islam and the United States. They also want to bring down the House of Saud. Meanwhile in another part of the world, John Wells has left the CIA after event In the small country of Bahrain, home to the US Fifth Fleet, and elsewhere around the Persian Gulf region, simultaneous attacks by Muslim terrorists go off like clockwork. These attacks are funded by someone within the House of Saud, for the purpose of bringing the US to war with Saudi Arabia that will lead to the final confrontation between Islam and the United States. They also want to bring down the House of Saud. Meanwhile in another part of the world, John Wells has left the CIA after events of the Midnight House and the fact that the CIA Director Vinny Duto and he have a mutual hatred towards each other. Duto has used Wells once too many times, only to blame him for everything that goes wrong. Wells has been a hero more than once in saving the US from terrorist’s attacks, only to be dumped on when Duto believed things should have gone a different way. Ellis Shafer, his only friend within the CIA, is nearly his mandatory retirement, and really couldn’t care what Duto does. John is his friend, and he will do whatever is necessary to help him. Wells decides to become an independent contractor. His first case involves tracking down a traitor and former CIA Agent named Keith Edward Robinson, who sold secrets to the nation of China, and is now on the FBI’s most wanted list. Robinson, with the help of his former wife Janice, is tracked down to Montego Bay, Jamaica where he is his selling illegal drugs. Wells and Brett Gaffan, a former Special Forces operator who worked with Wells in the past, attempt to capture him, only to have him flee to a cruise ship. *Story remains unsolved* Wells, in the meanwhile, has remained with Anne Marshall, a North Conway, New Hampshire sheriff’s officer he met during the previous installment. Annie is a strong willed woman, and not prone to falling for Wells penchant for brooding and self-defeating attitude. If you are new to this series welcome! John has a tendency to not be able to keep women around. His wife left him while he was serving with the Army Rangers, taking his son along with her. During this time, he was undercover with Al Qaeda, and got first-hand knowledge of their tendencies and horrors. He also converted to Muslim after he found that the other religions weren’t calling him any longer. Jennifer Exley, formerly of the CIA, was John’s fiancée, but left after she was hurt by terrorist, and John refused to listen to her when she ask him to not go after them. John’s revenge is always one speed; full throttle no matter who gets in the way. Sometimes, however, he is one step behind those he is chasing, and it ends up costly. This story is no exception to that rule. This story reads as a thriller, political ideology, and history lesson on the Kingdom of Saudi, where nearly all of the 19 terrorists that attacked the US on 9/11 came from. This is the place where Imam’s preach pure hatred towards the west in state sponsored madrassas (schools), even though the Quran itself does not. Saudi Arabia is where factions of the House of Saud, actively participate in state sponsored terrorism against the west and Israel, while preventing women from driving themselves, or for having jobs without worrying about men supporting them, or protecting them. Where each resident receives free education and health care and gasoline is heavily subsidized. They also have no income taxes because of the revenue generated from oil sales, especially to countries like India and China. Berenson’s story is put in proper prospective at times, other times it’s like his social commentary on the world today. Our involvement with the Saudi’s isn’t all about oil. It’s also about Money, Ideology, Compromise and Ego (MICE). It's also, in a way, to stop Iran from invading Saudi Arabia and installing Shia law in it's place. Shia is the religion that believes in the 12th Imam, which leads to the end of days and an oveall Caliphate in the middle east at the expense of Israel and other more moderate countries like Jordan. I’ll leave off the rest of the history lesson that Berenson infused the story with, including the fact that the House of Saud is the only nation in the world continually lead by one family member. King Abdullah, the current ruler of Saudi Arabia, contacts Pierre Kowalki, a Swiss arms dealer, and asks if he knows any mercenaries that would be willing to help find out who the traitor is among his ruling family. Pierre offers up John, who agrees after being flown to Paris for a secret meeting and then given millions of dollars in operating capital. John’s only back-up is Gaffan. The story goes into the conflict within the House of Saud between brothers Abdullah and Saeed, over the transfer of leadership to Abdullah’s older son. Saeed wants his son Mansour, who is head of the Mukhabarat, or Saudi Secret Police. Saeed actually is nearly as old as his brother, and hears voices in his head saying “mine, mine, mine!” A conflict which later takes the life of Abdullah’s niece Princes Alia who was preaching women’s rights to a room full of women. The terrorist was dressed as a woman at the time he pulled the trigger. He was funded by Saeed, and Mansour. Wells soon learns that he is being played by both the USA and Saudi to stop the terrorists. Along the way Wells uncovers a secret terrorist training camp in Lebanon, and discovers that a major event is about to take place in Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately, he is unable to stop this group from kidnapping and torturing the US Ambassador to Saudi, Graham Kirkland. This is an intense story and fast paced as Wells tries to uncover the conspiracy and stop the terrorists before they can start a war. Unfortunately, he is also a step behind at times, which leads to the death of the US Ambassador in Mecca. There still remain questions in regards to Wells and Saeed, who basically got off scot free by both the Saudi’s and Americans in this story. Overall, the intensity of this book was just right, and I’m definitely going to continue reading this series. Wells is one of my favorite characters of all times, and his Muslim faith isn’t thrown in our faces. He’s fully dedicated to his country, and nearly gave his life more than once in defense of it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lloyd

    This is another installment of a great thriller series about the CIA’s efforts against terrorism and despots around the world. The main character is CIA agent John Wells, who is not an unfeeling automaton CIA agent. He has doubts, fears and he exhibit’s PTSD symptoms that nag at his psyche. In this story, John has resigned from the CIA. But, just as the author explains, resigning from the CIA is just like trying to leave the Hotel California; that is, you can checkout anytime you want, but you c This is another installment of a great thriller series about the CIA’s efforts against terrorism and despots around the world. The main character is CIA agent John Wells, who is not an unfeeling automaton CIA agent. He has doubts, fears and he exhibit’s PTSD symptoms that nag at his psyche. In this story, John has resigned from the CIA. But, just as the author explains, resigning from the CIA is just like trying to leave the Hotel California; that is, you can checkout anytime you want, but you can never leave. John gets himself involved in a clandestine mission as a private contractor for Saudi royal family members, but keeps in close contact with his former boss at the CIA. The story is filled with plenty of action, tension and suspense. There are unexpected twists and turns in the story. And finally, as in real life, the endings aren’t always satisfactory. Not every dangerous situation can wrapped-up nicely in a bow. Adverse consequents often occur in real life and that reality carries over to this fictional story.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Keith

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. From Lebanon to the French Riviera to Cyprus to Mecca, John Wells does what he does best. Except [SPOILER ALERT] he falls just short of being a hero in the end. Wells’ finally made his pilgrimage (of a sort, since he’s an erstwhile Muslim) or Hajj but didn’t go to Mecca for religious reasons. Rather he went to save the American Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). There’s a challenge to the throne in KSA but succession isn’t assured for Khalid, the King’s son. Look, I’m reading these From Lebanon to the French Riviera to Cyprus to Mecca, John Wells does what he does best. Except [SPOILER ALERT] he falls just short of being a hero in the end. Wells’ finally made his pilgrimage (of a sort, since he’s an erstwhile Muslim) or Hajj but didn’t go to Mecca for religious reasons. Rather he went to save the American Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). There’s a challenge to the throne in KSA but succession isn’t assured for Khalid, the King’s son. Look, I’m reading these novels because they distract me from 2020 and my darkening depression from the onset of Winter. I’ll keep diving deeper into Berenson’s books before I delve into deeper depression. Kick ass, Mr. Wells. Please, by all means, kick ass.

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