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The Midnight House (A John Wells Novel) Hardcover – February 9, 2010


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Product Details

  • Series: A John Wells Novel
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult (February 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399156208
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399156205
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #921,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Exclusive: Alex Berenson Talks About His New Novel, The Midnight House

As a reporter for The New York Times, Alex Berenson has covered topics ranging from the occupation of Iraq to the flooding of New Orleans to the financial crimes of Bernie Madoff. His previous novels include The Faithful Spy, winner of the 2007 Edgar Award for best first novel, The Ghost War, and The Silent Man.

John Wells has been through a lot.

Over the course of his first three missions—chronicled in The Faithful Spy, The Ghost War, and The Silent Man —he’s been shot. Twice. He’s been beaten nearly to death in a prison in Beijing. He’s fought hand-to-hand against Russian special forces soldiers in a cave in Afghanistan. He’s repelled an assassination attempt in a traffic jam in Washington.

And, of course, there was that time he was infected with the plague.

Just writing this list makes me wince a little bit, too. You see, John is real to me—and, based on the e-mail I receive, to lots of readers, too. Unlike a typical action hero, he’s not a human Etch-a-Sketch. He can’t shake himself clean, forget everything he’s seen and done, and wake up ready for his next mission. He has nightmares and fits of depression. Yet he will never give up his roles as protector and—unique to Wells—infiltrator, each of which brings with it specific and intense psychological stresses, and so he has no choice but to soldier on.

Put simply, Wells, like many veterans, has posttraumatic stress disorder. The syndrome has gone by different names over the years: “shell shock,” “the thousand-yard stare,” “combat fatigue.” Most soldiers don’t like talking about it, especially to civilians. And with the help of their families and fellow soldiers, the great majority eventually find a way to put their experiences behind them. But some suffer terribly. The number of suicides in the Army has more than doubled since the Iraq war began, rising from 67 in 2003 to at least 150 in 2009.

So in writing my fourth novel, The Midnight House, I wanted to respect the real-world impact that war has on the men and women who fight it. I hear from soldiers and veterans who read these novels, and who see themselves in Wells. I would hate to betray them by turning him into a comic-book character. And I am very conscious of the trauma Wells has accumulated, both physical and psychic. It’s just not realistic to bring him to the edge of death over and over and expect him to survive. I also wanted to give him a break from killing, to the extent I could. Not that he’s become a pacifist; far from it. But, without giving too much away, he is a detective as much as a soldier in this book, and he tries to avoid using force whenever he can. (In The Silent Man in contrast, he deliberately seeks out revenge even when Jennifer Exley, his then fiancée, asks him not to.)

Don’t worry, though. From start to finish, The Midnight House has plenty of excitement, and the early reviews have been great. Kirkus Reviews called the novel “a superbly crafted spy thriller that doubles as a gripping mystery,” and Publishers Weekly said it is “exceptional” and “compelling.” I hope you’ll agree. And I hope that when you’re done reading, you’ll remember that although John Wells is only as real as the pages (or screens) of these novels, the valor and sacrifice that he represents is alive every day in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and in the homes of soldiers and veterans across America.

--Alex Berenson

(Photo of Alex Berenson © Sigrid Estrada)

From Publishers Weekly

After saving New York City in 2009's The Silent Man, CIA agent John Wells, the hero of bestseller Berenson's exceptional espionage series, retreats to rural New Hampshire in his compelling fourth outing. He hikes and thinks, accompanied only by his dog, Tonka, but soon enough, John hears from Ellis Shafer, his sort-of boss at the agency, who calls him back to Washington, D.C., for a new assignment. An unknown assassin is targeting members of Task Force 673, a now-disbanded secret unit whose job was interrogating terrorists, in particular high-value detainees, by any necessary means. Five of the 10-person squad are missing or dead, with the rest in mortal danger. In his pursuit of the killer, John encounters all manner of political intrigue, including convoluted plots set in motion by agency chiefs vying for control of America's security apparatus, who rely on low-level field spies to carry out their various and bloody plans. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

As a reporter for The New York Times, Alex Berenson has covered topics ranging from the occupation of Iraq to the flooding of New Orleans to the financial crimes of Bernie Madoff.

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Customer Reviews

I look forward to the next Alex Berenson book!
J. Duncan
While there are some exciting action sequences, Berenson has also written an intelligent story with rounded characters.
Julia Flyte
Very well written and keeps you sitting on the edge of your seat!
Karen Koskinas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Timothy J. Kindler VINE VOICE on February 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Midnight House is Alex Berensen's fourth installment in the series featuring CIA agent John Wells. As the story opens, Wells is in self-imposed seclusion as he attempts to recover physically and emotionally from previous action. Quickly, however, he is called back to Washington DC to help investigate the murders of several members of a secret terrorist interrogation unit. Although initially reluctant to reengage, he is rapidly pulled into an investigation filled with undefined allegiances and potential conspiracies.

Start to finish, this work moves along with pace. As Wells moves forward with his investigation, Berensen frequently goes back in time to slowly shed increasing amounts of light on the Midnight House and its participants. The Midnight House is not without its action and plot twists, but it is different than the previous installments of the series. In Midnight House, Wells' action is more often cerebral than it is physical, with much of the intense action left to other characters. All-in-all, this story broadens the Wells character in a good way. While this work could stand on its own, my recommendation would be to read all four books in order for maximum enjoyment.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Melvin Hunt on February 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is another good book from Alex Berenson. Once again the hero of this action-espinoige novel is John Wells.
The U.S. government has set up a house in Poland called the Midnight House. This house is used for interrogation
purposes. Jihadists from the war in Afghanistan are captured and brought to the Midnight House to be interrogated
(or tortured). This facility is staffed by CIA personnel.Army Rangers, and other personnel. The name of this group is 673. There are 10 members of this working group. When 7 members of the 10 are murdered the head of the
CIA brings John Wells in to investigate the killings and determine who is responsible. Wells travels around the
globe to trace down leads. He is assaulted and arrested. It turns out to be a rough investigation. Wells starts
narrowing in on the killer. The identity of the real killer will surprise you. He also discovers deception and conspiracy wound into this plot. This is a very good book that will give you insight into interrogation centers. Be sure to buy it.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Rocky Mountain Reader on March 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I have read all four of the John Wells novels and this is the best in the series. While some might prefer slam-bang action and fears of the imminent destruction of the world, what I really liked about Midnight House was the psychological intrigue. In a good spy novel you need twists and turns including it never being clear whether some characters are "good" or "bad" and this book has plenty of that. The pain of the interrogators seemed real and Wells investigation of the murders central to the plot kept me guessing.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Robert C. Olson VINE VOICE on March 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Who guards the guards?
The Midnight House by Alex Berenson is a very well crafted philosophical action thriller. Mr. Berenson tackles one of today's most controversial topics: Torture. Enter protagonist CIA agent John Wells to find out exactly what happened at the super secret rendition Midnight House, and why the interrogators stationed there are being killed off. Weaving intense action with the current hot topic of interrogational torture, Mr. Berenson writes a fast paced story dealing with all the difficult and seamy psychological aspects of rendition and international espionage. Mr. Berenson's tale is broad brushed and details all the political, psychological, and philosophical aspects of today's complex world of international espionage and terror: From the frontline Delta Operators to the highest levels of Homeland Security. Simply stated, everyone at every level is affected by the over exposed world of detainee interrogation and manipulation. In today's world of hyper-politicization it matters not if the information obtained is actionable, what matters most is the process. Protagonist John Wells must deal with these difficult thorny questions and as Mr. Berenson points out there are NO easy answers. Just more questions.

A page turner but not for the normal reasons. This is a thinking person's examination of the more controversial aspects of the global war on terror. Mr. Berenson does a very good job of questioning just who are the real terrorists: The jihadists or the operators trying to catch and stop them? And what exactly is torture and does it have a place in current world events? I have my views, but it is for the reader to make their own moral judgments. All in all a finely crafted work concerning one of today's most controversial subjects.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Berschauer on June 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I've been a fan of the idea of Alex Berenson's novels, but have always had a reason to stop short of really liking his work. With The Midnight House, I'm still left looking for a breakout Berenson work - Mr Berenson always seems to force me to qualify his stories with a "but".

TMH doesn't suffer from the silliness that plagued each of the earlier works in different ways - Hollywood ending in one, implausible sleuthing in another, etc. On one level, TMH seeks to be a deliberately-paced whodunnit; the thrill is in the hunt. On another level, as the back story of the Midnight House plays against the present day search for a killer, Mr Berenson does a nice job of showing the reader the gray areas in the Intelligence business. Are the agents who apply tactics of torture sadistic thugs, or are they patriots seeking to protect their country by any means necessary? What is the thought process that goes into these activities? How are these actions justified by the people involved? Mr Berenson gives us a decent story here, but...

I felt the language in TMH was, in a word, trite. In spite of the subject matter - especially in the first several chapters - TMH was a difficult novel to take seriously. While this is annoying from a journalist, and demonstrates little growth in Mr Berenson's skill as a novelist, another area bothered me more. Mr Berenson asks the reader to accept the reinvention of the preceding novels' well-established relationships in order to cast John Wells as an investigator rather than the operative he is. It's a different kind of implausibility - one that, really, would not affect new Berenson readers.

As with its predecessors, I liked The Midnight House, although not as much as I would have liked.
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