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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Although as stated in previous reviews, the plausability of this book does tend to be streched quite a bit, that does not subtract from the entertainment value of this book. Like his previous four novels, this book moves at a very quick pace, has engaging characters, and a plot line that will have you examining your morals and values. I wish Hollywood had the guts to adapt this novel to film as this would make a highly entertaining movie and would be very original as well. With the moral ambiguity of this book however I know that will never happen. Once again Kyle Mills has written a very clever and unique thriller. If you are looking for a very solid and entertaining thriller that will make you look at the world a litte differently- then you should enjoy this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 16, 2002
In his latest thriller, Kyle Mills combines the convoluted plotting, conspiracy paranoia and rapidity of action in the best Ludlum books with the international political intrigue with government agents operating around the edges of legality found in the best of Clancy. FBI agent Mark Beamon returns as the central character of this present day adventure involving a confluence of individually believable events that have been woven into a fascinating and extremely fast moving if somewhat implausible scenario.
As readers of Mills' previous novels know, for political reasons Mark Beamon has become persona non grata at FBI headquarters and thus has been "promoted" to Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Phoenix office, a job which suits neither his temperament or skills. As he is trying to decide whether to move on with his life, a terrorist cell inside the US sends videotapes to media outlets which indicate that they possess a rocket launcher and plan to attack a major city. This causes a political firestorm, so Mark's friend and previous FBI associate secretly enlists Mark to help locate the terrorists before they can carry out their threat. Meanwhile when Mark is unable to prevent the murder of a fellow undercover FBI agent who has infiltrated the mob in an attempt to get information regarding their heroin distribution operations, he goes on a personal crusade to avenge the death which he could not prevent. Mark eventually develops a speculative theory regarding a possible connection between the two cases, and goes deep undercover himself. Mark manages to affiliate himself with an international crime organization run by Romanian expatriate Christian Volkov, and is pursued around the world by both the FBI and the CIA (in order to keep their own role hidden). While trying to stay alive and keep Volkov from guessing his identity he has to stop Al Queda from firing the rocket while simultaneously disrupting their source of income from supplying the Mob with drugs. And he is still motivated primarily by the need to find out who ordered the hit onhis friend killed and exact revenge. So, as I hope is clear, if you like political intrigue combined with non-stop action, you should enjoy this book, especially if you are a cynic regarding the motives of politicians and government agents.
Additionally, Mills cleverly integrates some infrequent philosophical asides as Mark has to face such issues as the counterproductive nature of the war on drugs and prosecution of victimless crimes and whether the government uses its power more ruthlessly and often causes more harm than the the criminals who it prosecutes. That this is a subtly political novel added to my enjoyment, since I agree with the apparent philosophical inclinations of the author.
I only have two minor cautions, the first few chapters move slowly but they are essential for providing background on Mark's character for first time readers of Kyle Mills and also provide elements which figure heavily in Mark's motivations as the story proceeds. Second, there are a few minor editing and proofreading errors. These were offset by my relief that the graphic violence in this story is kept to an essential minimum, as opposed to BURN FACTOR, which featured almost non-stop incredibly gruesome scenes of torture and death.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2002
This was a great story, even better than a Clancy book - more action and less verbage. The main character is again Mark Beamon, an older and slightly used up FBI agent put out to pasture as Special Agent in Charge at the Phoenix office. He gets pulled into a complicated case by his former partner Laura Vilechi who has been placed in charge of finding a missing rocket launcher held by Yasin, a powerful Afghan terrorist. The case gets much more complicated involving Volkov, a powerful drug lord and other drug dealers, the mafia, CIA bosses, and his own FBI boss. I would love to see another Beamon story but I do not know where Mr. Mills could possibly take him further.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2002
Sphere of Influence is the fifth novel by Kyle Mills and the fourth he has written about his main character, Mark Beamon. While readers of Mills' previous works will know what Beamon brings to a story, the strength of Sphere of Influence is its plot and storylines, which include many topics currently in the news. These include terrorism, drug-smuggling, and more. References are made to the Taliban, Osama bin Laden, and the World Trade Center. The realistic description of people and events adds to an already exciting and believeable story. Kyle Mills has penned his best novel yet and shows no signs of falling into the trap of mediocracy that plaques many writers at this stage. This book is good enough that new readers will be looking for his previous works.
Also recommended: Rising Phoenix, Storming Heaven, and Free Fall by Kyle Mills. Vince Flynn's Mitch Rapp novels including Transfer of Power and Separation of Power.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2002
Mill's writing style is superb - excitement, tension, intrique, etc and out comes something to make you laugh such as
"She handed Beamon a tall glass and he took a sip of the cold, fizzy liquid. For the thousandth time in his life, he said a quick, silent prayer for the souls of the brilliant men who invented Alka-Seltzer."
The downside is that I guess I'll have to wait another year or so for the next one. I've read them all but if you haven't it will give you something to do until the next one comes along.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2003
SPHERE OF INFLUENCE By Kyle Mills
I do not have time to write reviews on books on which I am neutral or do not like. I liked this book. Kyle Mills writes a good up-to-date adventure story about a rebel FBI agent who is not an FBI agent at the end of the tale. Mark Beamon who put the truth ahead of his job, and who was drinking and smoking himself into an early grave is a good believable lead character. He reminds me of people I have known in the past. Mark did not appear to fear death too much or anything else. His mind was made for thinking and he was afraid he was loosing his edge at that.
TV stations start getting videotapes from somewhere in the USA. They show a primitive rocket launcher, which is in the hands of terrorists somewhere in the States. The FBI immediately have almost all of the people terrified of where the first rocket will land, in a supermarket, schools, shopping malls in what State? When, is the next frightening question?
Beamon had ... off most of Congress and embarrassed the Washington elite with a too honest investigation and was about to be sacrificed on a tromped up charge. When a new president was elected and he had support again and was given an office in the field--one more dinosaur that would not disappear immediately.
He contacted Laura Vilechi, an old friend in the FBI for information about the rocket launcher and unofficially joined her effort to find it. This took him, Mark to places in the world that he would just as soon have never seen, and people like General Yung in Laos. Yung was a murdering sociopath the king of drug trafficking in his part of the world.
The FBI had in affect fired Mark, and he was working with a powerful mystery man, Christian Volkov whose primary income aside from his many legal businesses was from drugs. He was a citizen of anyplace and everyplace in the world and for the people who wanted him impossible to find. But he found Mark and developed a liking for him.
Mark helped Laura find the rocket launcher with the aid of Christian Volkov and the CIA, and the unwilling aid of the Mob. Mean while he got himself in so deep with Christian Volkov that the FBI tried to find him because he was embarrassing them�it�s an interesting book. If you like books about the FBI, CIA and drugs in our modern world read it and do yourself a favour.
Roger L. Lee
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 8, 2002
See book description above.
From Kyle Mill's very first novel, I've been a fan. The character of Mark Beamon is a very likeable and admirable hero.
The story and characters of Mill's latest are also very timely. From Yasin, a powerful Afghan terrorist, to Volkov, a powerful drug lord. The many characters make for a somewhat intricate plot. Afghan terrorists and drug dealers, local mafia bosses, a Laotion general, CIA bosses, FBI bosses, Heroin wars, a missing rocket launcher, and of course Mark Beamon and his friends.
A great international thriller with vivid story telling.
Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2003
I believe this is Mr. Mills best so far and I can't wait for the next installment in the life of Mark Beamon. This is a page turner with lots of twists and turns. I normally don't give a novel five stars, but this deserves it. "Burn Factor" was the first of Mr. Mills' books I read and have not been disappointed in any of them; however, "Sphere of Influence" is the one I have enjoyed the most.
Mr. Mills: keep up the good work.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2004
I enjoyed this book, but Kyle Mills' other books have been better. I hope to heaven that something like this could never happen and that may have been what kept me from enjoying this more. If someone told you you would like Kyle Mills read them in order. Start with Rising Phoenix and then Storming Heaven, those are both a lot of fun to read, I read this because I like the author, and wanted to stick with him. I'll wait a while before I read the next one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 24, 2004
Rogue elements or individuals within America's governmental law enforcement agencies have always been a hallmark of many thriller and mystery novelists. For example, Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy, just to name two, have often used rogue CIA operatives as part of their many novels and to great effect. In the past, the Cold War provided the backdrop for such operations. With the theoretical end of the Cold War, there was concern that like black and white movies, the times had passed such topics by. Now, in what is sure to be a flood of such novels, Muslim fanaticism and the global war on terror are replacing the Cold War as a fictional backdrop. Rogue elements in the CIA in fiction along with the occasional glimpses through Congressional hearings in real life makes this novel highly believable.
Somewhere in America, an Al-Queada terrorist cell has a rocket launcher and some missiles for it. With the death of Osama Bin Laden (treated as fact), Al-Queada has reconstituted itself under new leadership and become a smaller, more efficient terrorist organization. They have learned the ultimate lesson of the terrorist attacks-America was hurt much worse by the economic impact of such actions than by the casualty toll. The terrorists release videotape to the major networks detailing their threat to fire missiles somewhere in the United States. They promise to attack schools, shopping centers, etc. to make the point again that one is ever safe.
Panic grips the nation exacerbated by the twenty four hour seven day a week cable news coverage of the threat. Schools, business, shopping centers, etc. begin to close as the nation's commerce grinds to a halt. For Mark Beamon, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Phoenix Office, the situation is doubly frustrating. Not only is this not his case and that has been made clear by his superiors, he has massive personal problems of his own.
Mark is less than happy with his current role in the FBI. As detailed in the earlier three novels of this series character, Mark Beamon is a loner and does not play well with others. He certainly does not really fit into the model of what an agent is in the currently politically correct version of today's FBI. He eschews office politics and relies on results. About to be fired, arrested and imprisoned for his previous actions, the incoming President saved him from himself. Thanks to having a friend on the White House Staff, he was instead sent to dead-end his career in charge of the Phoenix office. Management is not his thing and as the ongoing office audit makes clear, his talents are better suited to working cases, not people.
Because of his connections to other agents from past cases, Mark begins to get separate but important pieces of information that he is not supposed to have access to. He sees a totally different track to the case and his ideas conflict with his superior's public statements. He begins to suspect that the terrorists have links to organized crime and wonders why the CIA isn't telling all they know. Soon his suspicions prove correct as a fellow agent and long time friend is executed while both are on an undercover operation. Allowed to survive, Mark Beamon begins to work the case from deep undercover using any resources and methods necessary to find not only the rocket launcher but also those responsible inside and outside of government.
This is an extremely complicated novel, which in my summary, I have failed to do justice to. As the really good novels do, it works on many levels with puzzles within puzzles. The players are extremely complicated and multi-dimensional and there are a large number of plot twists. The action is frequently intense and the novel moves forward at a steady clip.
One also has to wonder just how much of this novel is actual fact and not conjecture. Tom Clancy took an active involvement in this author's career from the early stages including helping him get his first novel published titled "Rising Phoenix." Tom Clancy has long been known for his access to highly classified government information and sources and is said to have introduced Kyle Mills to many of the same information resources. One often gets the feeling in reading his novels that Kyle Mills barely fictionalizes many important details. If true in this case, he is providing some very interesting material on the war in terrorism in this very enjoyable thriller.
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