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3.9 out of 5 stars
The Counterfeit Agent (A John Wells Novel)
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54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Alex Berenson has struck again with another brilliant John Wells thriller. Drawing deeply on a superb understanding of geopolitics Berenson takes threads from the rise of non-state actors, dark money in politics, the Iranian nuclear program and of course every politicians fear that they are going to be labeled as soft on Iran and unsupportive of Israel to develop a story line that moves as fast as a race car on the Utah salt flats. Add a proven character and a great sense of narrative and you have a brilliant novel.

Perhaps the best thing about The Counterfeit Agent is that I had no earthly idea how this thing was ending until I got to the final ten pages. In addition the fact that it doesn't tie up into a neat bow makes it feel more like the real world.

In every way this is a brilliant, must read novel. Hurry and grab it. I can't wait until Mr. Wells undertakes his next mission
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 8, 2014
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I started this series with the first entry, "The Faithful Spy", and have read each new entry as soon as released (in fact, some even earlier, with advance reviewer copies through the Vine program, such as this book).

I welcomed Berenson as a talented new voice in the genre, and thoroughly enjoyed each of his books, right up until last year's release, "The Night Ranger", which I considered a major misstep (you can read my entire review of that book there).

With this new entry, Berenson returns protagonist John Wells back to what he does best - international espionage dealing with events of major cataclysmic potential - but somehow, some of the mojo seems to be gone.

The plot centers on a shadowy operative who goes by the nom du guerre of Salome. At the behest of her mysterious masters she's acquired a chunk of weapons-grade enriched uranium, and recruited a cadre of minions to put her plan into action, that plan being to sow international discord and panicked response to the threat of nuclear blackmail supposedly being enacted by Iran.

Wells, now in retirement and living with his girlfriend, is recruited into action by his old boss and friend Ellis Schaeffer to delve into the threat, try to verify or debunk it, and then deal with the people behind it. Wells follows the clues to where they lead him around the world as the body count ratchets up.

All well and good as far as it goes, but the tension just never seems to ratchet up to match the scale of the threat. A matter of pacing, and lack of focus, in my opinion.

There's the leisurely "now you see it, now you don't" issue of Wells's disintegrating relationship with his girlfriend. It pops up at the oddest moments for a paragraph or two, then vanishes again.

Wells's old professional nemesis, Vinny Duto, is now a US Senator, but is somehow still actively involved in running Schaeffer and Wells on this mission, in spite of the fact that he no longer has any standing in the CIA. I found it unbelievable and, frankly, awkward.

The plot isn't resolved at the end of the book, at least as far as Salome is concerned. Obviously, there's a Part 2 coming to this plot line. So the emotional payoff to the story's conclusion isn't really there. This may contribute to the pacing problem of the story: Berenson knew he was writing a two-parter, and so had to either compress his (apparently) byzantine plot line to fit into one book, or stretch things out enough to allow the story to fill two entire books. Pure speculation on my part, but it would answer the question.

Anyway, not as good as his seminal works, but not as bad as the last book. 3 ½ stars. Entertaining, but could have been better.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )Verified Purchase
If you like espionage books, and you are not reading this series, you are missing out on one of the best. I have been reading thrillers and espionage books for years, starting with Ludlum, Frederick Forsyth, Ken Follett, just to name some of the older ones.....The new ones, Silva, Clancy, Flynn, Greaney, I could keep going. My point? Alex Berenson is up there with the best. His character, John Wells, is very different than your normal character, the first book found him under deep cover with Islamist extremists, and he converted to Islam after so many years undercover. That is way different than the expected hero. Then circumstances bring him back into the world, and the series takes off.
This latest book is different than the others in that the story is a little slow to get going, but when you reach the end, you understand why. The author leaves you at a point that you must read the next book, there is so much more story to go. At first in reading the book, I was wondering why there seemed so much background rather than action, then I understood. The author was not done with me!
I would suggest reading this series from the beginning, you get to know the main character so well, and really get to like him and appreciate what he has sacrificed for the country. However, if you are new to the series, and want to start with this book, it is still a really good read, just not as much appreciation for where the character has been and may be going.
I highly recommend this book and this series, I am so glad I found him. I came late to the series, and was able to read the books one after another, what a treat that was! Read this author, John Wells is a favorite, well developed character, and I would hate for you to miss him.
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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Any time an author is writing a series where the story is incomplete until the next book is written they should be required to disclose it. The story line is fairly fragmented, but not too bad while it lasts. Unfortunately, it stops without coming to a conclusion. Since this is a currently written book the reader now has to wait until, if ever, the author decides to finish the story. I have read several other books where the author has done this and then simply not finished the story. I believe this is at the very least rude and possibly a stronger word would be appropriate.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This is another compelling story in the John Wells series but don't expect to get your money's worth. Turn the last page and it's abruptly over - no conclusion, no ending, it's just the end of the book. Oh wait, buy my next book in several months and you will see me continue this story. There are so many open items there is no satisfaction for the reader. The only thing we learn is Wells breaks up with his girlfriend (maybe). This author does not need to resort to this to sell books and authors should not resort to "Who shot J.R." tactics unless they clearly include "Part I" in the title. The page added after the end that says and now I have to go back to work does not absolve him. Count me out - by the time "Part II" is released who will even recall all the characters.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This is not a novel. This is an installment--a fact that you don't find out until page 358 (of 374 total pages). The characters are cartoons. The action at times made me laugh out loud. The best I can say for it is that it is hackneyed and plodding and sometimes confusing for no reason at all. I stayed with it just to see how bad it could get. Insult to injury, I still don't know--and won't unless I am gullible enough to read the next installment. What is truly depressing about this book is how many people think it depicts the real deal . . .
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This book does not have an ending, but a silly cliffhanger to make you buy another. Poor show. Wouldn't recommend this.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I don't mind buying a series, in fact I enjoy a long drawn out story and I have purchased many, but to get all the way to the end of this book and discover that itis not a 'complete' novel is very disappointing to say the least. I know that one reader said that this makes it like real life with loose ends, but the cliff hanger ending with many unanswered questions is so unlike all of the other John Wells novels that I feel I have been ripped off by not being told up front that this story is to be continued. If I had known that my $9.95 only bought me the first episode I would not have purchased this book. A $9.95 Kindle book should be a complete stand alone Kindle book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Did not know I was buying a part one of?
Now I have to spend more money to find out what happens . Very unfair to his readers .
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Kept sticking with this book hoping somehow the ending would tie it together. It didn't! Disappointing and a waste of my time.
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