by Ben Coes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Note to readers: This review was written as part of my Amazon Vine Voice program
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I wasn’t sure being speechwriter for George H.W. Bush qualified Ben Coes to be a thriller author, but Vince Flynn’s recommendation–that Coup D’etat (St. Martin’s Press 2011) is “one of the must-read thrillers of the year”–encouraged me to try this political insider-turned-writer. I’m glad I did.
The story starts in Australia on what some call a ranch, but they call a ‘station’. Coes’ description of the setting told me a lot about his writing skills: “The terrain was empty and lifeless for as far as the eye could see. A few large, bulbous clouds sat lazily to the west, just seeming to rest off to the side of the light blue sky. It was almost silent, with only the occasional exhale from Deravelle…” Anyone who can describe land this well deserves at least a few more pages. Coes’ wordsmithing powers go well beyond settings, to the people and culture of exotic areas–“An old man… his brown face deeply creased by nearly a century of wind and sun…appeared as part of the land…”
Coup D’etat is the story of Dewey Andreas, a top-notch Special Forces agent hunted so virulently by people from his past, he’s forced to hide out in the remote Australian outback, which is as far as he can get from his girlfriend and the world he loves just to keep them safe. But his enemies find him and he realizes that the only way he can truly escape is by doing one more mission for his country, this one to stop nuclear destruction at the hands of Pakistan and India. To stop the two nations from destroying the world in their bi-national feud, Andreas must defeat those who will go to any lengths to kill him. Coes does a superb job (to my apolitical mind) of analyzing the politics and mindsets behind Pakistan and India’s steps to the brink of a worldwide nuclear conflict, weaving the plot threads until they come together in a satisfying frightening conclusion.
This is Coes’ second book with this main character. Andreas is an appealing hero, strong but harshly damaged by his past, sincere but untrusting. There is a sadness about him that permeates everything he does, a lack of joy for the world he has helped to protect. Little by little, we learn why Andreas is hiding from terrorists in Australia and the huge price he has paid to protect his country. He’s that character all patriotic readers can relate to–a man with enough talent and smarts that he can put his country over everything else, step into the breech and succeed. My only complaint is that Andreas doesn’t get enough time in the early chapters. About the time it really started annoying me, Coes’ foundation material was through and Andreas moved into the spotlight. Good timing.
Overall, a good thriller with a unique main character. I’ll be reading each new book Coes publishes.
Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.