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With five critically acclaimed novels, as well as a hit TV movie, journalist, author and screenwriter Michael Walsh has achieved the writer's trifecta: two New York Times best-sellers, a major literary award and, as co-writer, the Disney Channel's then-highest-rated show.
The 1998 publication of As Time Goes By -- his long-awaited and controversial prequel/sequel to everybody's favorite movie, Casablanca -- created a literary sensation; translated into more than twenty languages, including Portuguese, Chinese and Hebrew, the story of Rick and Ilsa landed on best-seller lists around the world.
His first novel, the dark thriller Exchange Alley, was published by Warner Books in July 1997. Hailed by critics for its moody depiction of a crumbling Soviet Union - which Walsh covered first-hand as a correspondent for Time Magazine - and a violent, dangerous New York City during the darkest days of the early 1990s, the novel was picked by the Book-of-the-Month Club as an alternate selection.
Walsh's third novel, the gripping gangster saga, And All the Saints, was named a winner at the 2004 American Book Awards; even before publication, the movie rights to this fictionalized "autobiography" of the legendary Prohibition-era gangster Owney Madden was bought by MGM.
His 2009 novel, Hostile Intent, the first in a series of five thrillers about the National Security Agency to be published by Kensington Books, was an Amazon Kindle #1 bestseller, as well as a New York Times bestseller. The eagerly awaited sequel, Early Warning, will be published in Sept.
In the spring of 2002, the Disney Channel premiered Walsh's original movie (co-written with Gail Parent), Cadet Kelly, starring teen idol Hilary Duff of "Lizzie McGuire" fame. Until High School Music, the two-hour film reigned as the highest-rated original movie in Disney Channel history, as well as the Disney Channel's highest-rated single program ever.
Walsh is also the author of Who's Afraid of Classical Music (1989) and Who's Afraid of Opera (1994) for Fireside Books, and Andrew Lloyd Webber: His Life and Works, a critical biography of the composer for Harry M. Abrams (U.S.) and Viking Penguin (U.K.), published in the fall of 1989; an updated and expanded edition appeared in 1997. With fellow TIME Contributor Richard Schickel, he is the co-author of Carnegie Hall: The First One Hundred Years, a cultural history of the great American concert hall published by Abrams in November 1987. His most recent book about music is So When Does the Fat Lady Sing?, published by Amadeus Press.
Michael Walsh has crafted another great chapter in the saga of Devlin, America's most secret and most deadly weapon. The same villian from the first book Hostile Intent Hostile Intent is here again and just as much an evil genius as before. I warn you, after you read this book (and it will be fast) you will want to watch over Walsh's shoulder as he types out the next book because you won't want to wait for the next installment.
Walsh's writing has taken great strides since the last book, relying less on technical details and more on zipping things along. However, Walsh still knows his equipment and tech, you will learn something new about technology after reading this book. Even better, you will learn a lot about history, music, cryptography, and literature on nearly every page. I found myself ordering more books about the subjects Walsh discusses through his great characters.
The story of the book ends with satisfaction, but at the same time it is clear that there is a lot more story to tell, making it a little frustrating to not have any more books lined up and ready to read.
I gave "Early Warning" two stars because, first, it has what could have been an interesting plot line and, second, the main character, Devlin, has the bones of a good character. Otherwise, I think I would give the novel a half a star because, for me, it was an intolerable reading experience. I got two-third's of the way through and quit because I just couldn't take it any more.
The Kindle version is badly edited. There are sentence fragments (not the intended type). Although not frequent, each one is jarring and completely removes one from the flow of the story, requiring a pause to reflect on whether that possibly could be what the author meant to say. The author himself is intellectually arrogant. He often uses special usage words that, again, create unwanted pauses. There are frequent references, particularly to German history and arts, sometimes written in German, that offer no explanation and no translation. Since I am not fluent in German I have no idea what Mr. Walsh intended to convey. And based on the tone of the book, I am left with the impression that since I don't grasp his references I am an unworthy participant in the demise of American life.
This was the worst for me - the literally endless diatribe against the current moral condition of the United States. In the midst of the (all too infrequent) action scenes, the author more often than not spins off into paragraphs of how our society has lost its roots and is, I guess, undeserving of even a modicum of respect. When the character Frank Byrne, a police officer, confronts a terrorist in a life or death draw down, pages are spent on each of the two character's thoughts about the state of society. Is this background information?Read more ›
Early Warning is an unusually intelligent thriller with a lot to say about the world we live in. The protagonist, Devlin, is one of those shadowy, superhuman commando-spies in the lineage of Jason Bourne, Mitch Rapp, et al. His backstory is a bit more personally complex, and it is obviously setting up some fairly grand crisis in the third act. The villain, Emanuel Skorzeny, is a Sorosian Bond-villain type who appears to be pulling the strings (and providing means and money for) radical Islamists of the al-Qa'ida school for his own, distinctly un-Islamic ends. Devlin has a somewhat mysterious Iranian girlfriend, and his and Skorzeny's pasts (and therefore futures) are clearly connected.
The plot is excellent, and horrifying. Walsh (no relation) vividly imagines a Bombay-style attack on New York City by a decentralized terror cell using car bombs and small arms to reduce downtown Manhattan to a smoking free-fire zone, with the NYPD heroically trying to hold the the line. Devlin gets involved, of course, and starts hunting the dispersed terrorists, liquidating them individually in a series of tension-filled, episodic hunts. The climax comes with Devlin and the NYPD in separate-ish pursuits of the on-the-ground mastermind.
Take the criticisms here with a grain of salt, though they have some truth to them. There is a lot of philosophizing, relating specific details and incidents to larger trends in the world (Devlin is a man of strong views, as is Walsh, presumably), and it is the middle volume of a trilogy and consequently shares the inherent problems of any such second volume: You pick up in medias res, and the ending, while tying up the specific plot nicely, still leaves the biggest story-arc questions unanswered.Read more ›
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Two initial comments: First, I did not know that Early Warning was the second volume containing continuing characters, therefore when frequent reference was made to earlier actions by the protagonist, I was unaware of those incidents. Second, Michael Walsh has an excellent command of English and the proper usage to deliver the story in a profound manner. That said:
Early Warning is full of philosophical meandering, segue, and narrative described to present a political platform. The fact that I agree with much of this platform did not override the fact that it is too heavily endorsed to allow this novel to stand on its own feet. The action scenes are commendable (even if Devlin does make James Bond look like a Boy Scout)and Walsh delivers the goods as it relates to action and drama.
Since I am also an author of political thrillers, I wrestled with making any negative comments, but in light of Mr. Walsh's excellent ability to tell a story, I would certainly purchase another of his novels, hoping that he dwelt a bit more on the story and not so much on the constant insertion of historical or informative side bits.
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