by Ben Coes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
–reviewed as part of my Amazon Vine gig
I’m a long-time Ben Coes fan. I’ve read every book in the Dewey Andreas series–loved every one of them (see my review of The Last Refuge, Coup d’Etat, and Eye for an Eye). He always includes some sort of military-terrorist-weapon detail that rings true even when I know nothing about the topic. Here’s how he describes a shipment of illicit weapons being shipped to the Middle East:
The guns were sanitized. There were no manufacturer engravings or other identifiers on any of them. And they were all precisely the same model: M4 carbine, blackish gray, gas-operated, magazine-fed, telescoping stock, Picatinny rail, vertical forward grip…
No one can write in that level of detail and not know what he is talking about. At least, that’s my conclusion.
His latest Andreas adventure, First Strike (St. Martin’s Press 2016) is probably the best yet (OK, I might say that about every book. Coes just keeps getting better and better). It starts with the rise of ISIS, born from the traitorous actions of a few misguided politicians. By the time we get to present day, stopping this group is well-beyond simple. When the stakes become too high to ignore, the only solution anyone has is to call Dewey Andreas.
One of the masterful techniques Ben Coes uses in this series is to show us the human side of this unstoppable, bigger-than-life warrior. It may be an emotion or simply thoughts that any of us would have in his position, even those of us who aren’t miracle workers:
When Dewey climbed aboard the jet earlier that day [this is when Andreas believes he has stopped the terrorist threat, before he finds out they have a lethal Plan B], he thought he would enjoy a calm ride home followed by a few weeks off. He felt battered and bruised. Not to mention the horrible feeling he could not shake, the feeling of having a knife against his throat.
While I’ve always been in awe of the fullness of Andreas’ character–his compassion, his moral compass, his strategic wisdom–the biggest takeaway from this story is an understanding of why ISIS-type terrorists choose such feral and violent methods to deliver their message:
[The ISIS leader is talking to one of his followers, currently in charge of a deadly act of terrorism on America’s soil] In the moments just before victory, fear, intimidation, violence, brutality must be doubled, tripled, quadrupled. It is not because you are evil. It is because this is how countries are born.
Even if you aren’t into thrillers, read this novel for the geopolitical understanding of what is happening around us.
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.