108 of 119 people found the following review helpful
This work of fiction was easy to read and it may be because I already had a working knowledge of almost ninety percent of the acronyms used. There is no need to have knowledge of all the acronyms for they are listed in the front of the book and explained as they are used in the narrative. The concept for the novel is rather bold, the president of the United States has decided that cocaine is a clear and present danger to the country; though those exact words are not used. An old school Central Intelligence Agency operative, Paul Deveraux, who was retired from the agency because of his violent yet effective methods is summon to accomplish the task.
From the formulation of the basic desire of the president and with an executive order in hand Mr. Deveraux begins his prep work of building the organization he will need to combat the world cocaine trade and try to stop it. The book does go into detail on this organization building and research performed on the cocaine trade. We the reader are also introduced to the inner workings of the cocaine trade from the inside and can watch the actions and reactions of both sides as the book progresses. The realistic action in the book spans the cocaine using world.
All the above mentioned background is told in great detail and takes about half the book to get us where most readers of action want to be, the actual operation. The reader is privy to the operations as they take place and the cocaine organizations response as these operations to destroy the cocaine industry unfolds. A calculated plan of action with a plot that is easy to read. The background of the inner details we learned earlier about the formation of the anti-drug teams and the drug cartel bear fruits as the story unfolds. A rich yet violent work of fiction that is filled with accurate facts on existing governmental agencies and their capabilities.
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Like many other thriller authors, Frederick Forsyth has had his ups and downs. I didn't particularly care for his last outing, but figured I would give "The Cobra" a chance.
I am delighted, though sleep deprived, for the reading. "The Cobra" is an excellent thriller and strongly reminds one of Forsyth's breakthrough hit "Day Of The Jackal".
Forsyth introduces us to a not even disguised Obama suddenly becoming outraged at the toll cocaine is taking of young people. The depiction is so out of character that I almost stopped reading. I am glad I didn't, because the Obama character is invoked again later in the novel to great effect.
The story is, in a way, simple. An old CIA hand, Paul Devereuax, known as the "cobra" for his ruthlessness and cunning, is call out of retirement to quash by every and any means possible the cocaine trade. A Rahm Emmanuel clone gives Devereuax his assignment and the interchange is in a wry way, hilarious. Devereaux demands and gets plenipotentiary powers to conduct his operation. His first recruit is Cal Dexter, who outsmarted Devereaux in another long ago Forsyth novel.
Anyone looking for character development in Devereaux and Dexter will be disappointed. This is more a procedural, with the emphasis on the moves plotted by Devereaux. In reality, more time and words are spent on developing the Columbian bad guys who control the growing, harvesting, processing and distribution of approximately 600 tons of cocaine a year, mainly to the US and Europe.
The detail obsessed will appreciate Forsyth's extensive research into the cocaine trade and the ingeniousness and ruthlessness with which it is done.
For a thriller, there are a few thrills. For the first half or so of the book, Devereaux and Dexter are laying the groundwork to destroy the Columbian kingpin and his organization. Nearly all the second half is given to the routine and highly unlawful destruction of the cocaine trade by Devereaux's small forces and those off its allies.
If you're looking for blood and gore, there's not much here. On the other hand, if you're able to appreciate an unsparing look at the cocaine trade and why it prospers and a rather unbelievable - though to be wished for - offensive against it, this is an excellent book.
The ending came as a surprise to me, but made all the sense in the world given the story. Good stuff.
It is not a typical thriller by any stretch. But it is the best Forsyth has done in a long time. I found it irresistible and sacrificed some sleep to finish reading it.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A thinking reader's techno thriller.
I am a bit surprised at the number of negative reviews concerning Frederick Forsyth's new novel The Cobra. It is a typical well crafted, meticulous Forsyth techno-thriller on how to destroy the huge illicit worldwide cocaine network. Written in the vein of a Tom Clancy novel, Mr. Forsyth spends a great deal of time explaining how the Cobra, a retired CIA agent brought back into service by the President, will destroy the cocaine market, and then sets about doing it. A cerebral kind of story without much overt action but still an amazing read.
There are two kinds of literary action: That which is conjured up by the mind and that which is graphically portrayed through the written word. Frederick Forsyth's The Cobra is the former. Mr. Forsyth is a master of the tale. Without graphic or gratuitous violence or action, Mr. Forsyth is able through the written word alone bring depth and action to a unique tale that has deviled and perplexed mankind for years: How to stop cocaine drug trafficking. Mr. Forsyth accomplishes this through a logical examination of the cocaine trade and then pinpoints its inherent distribution flaws. Through smart, insightful, deductive writing he then presents an interesting way to disrupt and eventually destroy the cocaine trade through its own inherent corruption. Mr. Forsyth is absolutely brilliant in his reasoning and logic.
The downside is the lack of the graphic action that permeates most action thrillers today. Without that adrenalin rush, many readers are left flat and frustrated as many of the reviews of this fine novel show. If one thinks back to John Le Carre, Ian Fleming, or earlier Frederick Forsyth novels this was how those fine books were written: Building complex plots through limited action using the intellect of the mind. Like the formulistic movies today, most readers need the gratuitous chase scene, hot love making, massive shootouts, a cut throat or two, and the requisite fight scene to deem a novel an action thriller today. So be it, to each his, or her, own. I still enjoy a novel that requires a little work and is enjoyable by presenting a well thought-out plot.
No gratuitous violence, sex, or language. Character development was mediocre at best. As I immensely enjoy novels where the author develops his characters, this novel was not about that. It was about designing a way to stop cocaine trafficking. In that respect Mr. Forsyth accomplished his goal.
I like Frederick Forsyth and highly recommend The Cobra if you want a well thought-out "thinking person's" suspense thriller. If you want non-stop action this novel will probably bore you to tears. Interesting duel twist at the end that will leave the reader satisfied although a little disturbed by the federal government's reaction to the collapse of the cocaine market. As always I look forward to the next Forsyth novel.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Frederick Forsyth is one of the great contemporary thriller writers of our generation - a master storyteller who strikes a fine balance between adrenaline, drama, and credibility, neat yarns prowled by admirable but suitably flawed characters. "The Cobra" had all the makings of a Forsyth blockbuster: a relevant topic in cocaine trafficking, drug dealer king pins easy to hate as despicable villains, enough technology to keep a Clancy fan content, and a clever-enough plot with some neat turns. Yet despite the right ingredients, it fell surprisingly flat - a tale that started well with signs of great promise, but ran out of steam before crawling to a fizzle that even an eleventh hour unexpected twist couldn't salvage. "Cobra" lacks the intricacy of "Day of the Jackal," the passion of "Dogs of War," and the sheer thrills of "The Fist of God," and instead falling into line with recent works like "The Veteran," "Avenger," and "The Afghan:" more than passable fiction, but missing the power of Forsyth's earlier efforts.
The story starts in 2010 with the current administration in the White House, but manages to keep partisan politics - on either end - in check. The president, troubled by the death of a staff worker's grandson to cocaine, asks for a comprehensive briefing on the cocaine trade. Enter Paul Devereaux, the reclusive and ruthless former CIA counterintelligence operative known as Cobra. In a nutshell, the prez wants to know if cocaine can be stopped, and what it would take. Devereaux answers affirmatively - given $2B and virtual free reign to act without interference from an alphabet soup of nosey government agencies. So given the go ahead, Cobra assembles his team, including New Jersey lawyer Cal Dexter as his chief of staff, the "tunnel rat" Forsyth readers will remember from "Avenger." The Devereaux/Dexter team pulls some cool stunts with reconfigured grain transport ships, retired war planes, and Navy SEALs, driving Columbian drug lord Don Esteban to murder and much worse while keeping the pages turning.
With shades of Clancy's "Clear and Present Danger," Forsyth's fare is more ambitious, broader, more complex, and technically more interesting - closer to "Red Storm Rising" in scale. But while the Columbian drug cartels and their gang-banger customer-dealers are evil enough, the knock-out punch seems to get pulled each time the thugs are on the ropes. Not that there isn't enough bloodshed, violence, or depravity - plenty and more of that - but when droned in a near documentary-like cadence, the impact is hardly visceral. And while the enormity of the problem must be somewhat trivialized to fit is a standard length novel, I couldn't help get the feeling that Forsyth found himself in a bit over his head half way through, requiring some shortcuts and short hand in rushing to a finish that didn't quite hang together.
So is it worth it? yeah, mostly - Frederick Forsyth can always be counted on for reliable entertainment with some education along the ride. And maybe with another author, where my expectations weren't as high as for this venerable writer not so high, I'd easily throw in another star. But if you're looking for an alternative read that captures the real agony and frustration of the drug wars, Don Winslow's "Power of the Dog" is still the standard bearer.
89 of 118 people found the following review helpful
Being a big fan of Frederick Forsyth since his debut book, The Day of the Jackel, I was looking forward to reading his latest, The Cobra. However, much to my surprise, The Cobra is a major disappointment and, in my opinion, Forsyth's worst book to-date by far. To Forsyth's credit, the premise of The Cobra is an interesting and timely one. The premise is that the President of the U.S has decided to destroy the cocaine industry once and for all, and paves the way for a man called The Cobra (who used to run Special Ops for the CIA) to develop and execute a plan to accomplish this assignment. The Cobra is given carte blanche for anything he needs to accomplish this assignment -- no boundaries, no rules, no questions asked. Unfortunately, Forsyth's book reads like a boring, overly detailed chronicle of the events taken to carry out the President's decision rather than a suspenseful story with good dialogue and well-developed characters. Forsyth wrote The Cobra in a style that is highly narrative, with dialogue kept to a minimum, making the book very slow-paced. And, The Cobra, unlike many of Forsyth's previous books, is virtually devoid of character development, which contributed to my feeling that I never got to know any of the characters well enough to like or dislike them. I imagine that many of you who read my review and are fans of Frederick Forsyth will be skeptical that this author can write a book as bad as I'm describing. All I can say to you is that I hope you heed my advice and not read The Cobra. I'm sure you have better ways to spend your time and money.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2011
Okay, we have the obligatory five-star and one-star reviews, but it's interesting to note that the largest number of reviews are three stars. I'm at a two. It's not an awful book. There are far worse on Amazon -- fact books that get their facts wrong, fiction that sounds like it was written in fulfillment of an IRS obligation, and so forth. There are also far better.
The mood you need to be in to read this book is the same you would need to be in to enjoy, really enjoy, an episode of the original Mission: Impossible TV series. It's not about characters. Another reviewer mentioned that there is very little dialog. Yes! Stephen King points out that the #1 function of dialog in a book is to develop character. In a book with almost no dialog, there's very little character development. There is more description of people and places. But as I have come to expect from Forsyth, the greatest amount of description is given to the hardware. I have a far better visual image of any of two ships, two fast-moving boats, one helicopter, or one combat aircraft than I have of all the characters in the novel combined. Forsyth has always loved his hardware, especially if it goes bang. In other novels he loved his characters, if not equally, at least more than he does here.
So as a novel it's a story, pretty sparsely told, just the facts, ma'am. But what really disappoints is the ending scenario. NO SPOILER HERE, I thought it was a crushing letdown. I thought the lead character acted in a completely implausible way in the situation that evolved. I thought the lead villain acted only marginally less inconsistently with his character as it had been developed previously. I thought the scenario itself was ridiculous, more the inspiration of Forsyth's dyspepsia than anything else. Most serious, it was a novelist's cop-out: it was a way to end the novel and sell the copies without the hard work of pondering what the genuine outcome of his entire complicated plot might have been.
So to the rub. If you are looking for mind-candy after a really tough week, just something to blow out your cylinders, and you can handle a letdown of an ending, this is mind-candy that's relatively satisfying, even though it leaves a bad aftertaste. If you want a read after which you will smile and beam fond wishes in the direction of the author in exchange for the great story you just enjoyed, look on. Most other books by this author, or any by a Mystery Writers Association Grand Master, will please you better.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The premise of the book is riveting - what if governments too decided to fight the drug - cocaine specifically - war in a no-holds barred manner? The narration is tight, but the plot is too linear and without surprises to make it truly remarkable. A problem too is the fact that this book will suffer even more when compared to Forsyth's first novel, The Day of the Jackal, which remains, almost 40 years on, the author's best novel, and one of the best thrillers written.
The plot, set in the present day, features a black US President - yes, that would be Barrack Obama without being named as such - who decides that the horrors wreaked upon cocaine addicts needs to be put down, once and for all, using any and all means necessary. The task falls upon Paul Devereaux, a retired CIA official, who demands and gets a billion dollar plus budget and almost unlimited powers to bring the cocaine industry to its knees, or at least cripple it for a generation. A lot of the novel then moves into the plot, the sequence of steps taken by Devereaux to set the stage and plan for attacking the cocaine industry at its heart.
There is a fair bit of information about the cocaine trade, from its source in the jungles of Columbia, to its transportation to Europe via North and West Africa, via desperately poor countries ruled by despotic dictators, and into Europe. The plot described itself is quite ingenious, is tantalizingly real to make it believable, and the ending is realistic enough to make it equally believable.
Where the novel lets you down, is that the novel never picks up pace. There is no buildup towards a climax, no real twists, except for one at the very end, and which feels a bit too contrived and put more for the sake of a twist than anything else, and no character development to make the reader get involved with the characters or care much for them.
Some of the elements in the plot are too formulaic. Like the good good guys and the bad bad guys. The South Americans are almost all without scruples, the Europeans are all almost heroic, the Africans stereotypically poor, wretched, and corrupt. In a nod to an increasingly globalized world, the shipyard where the ships used by Devereaux are sent for refitting is in Goa, named Kapoor shipyards.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2010
In this new Forsyth novel the world declares war on the cocaine industry. The American President experiences a
tragedy firsthand when one of his employees grandshildren overdoses on cocaine. He authorizes a study to see which course of action to take to combat the cocaine menace. He next finds somrone to lead his war on cocaine. His
choice is Paul Devereaux better known as the Cobra. He is a former head of CIA black ops and he is utterly ruthless.
To assist him in his war on cocaine he recruits Cal Dexter from the Avenger book. Dexter is a tunnel rat from the
Vietnam war who turns into a highly skilled bounty hunter. The head man of the cocaine cartel is Don Diego Esteban .He is lord and master of the cocaine industry in Columbia.Devereaux opens season on thr cocaine industry.
By use of the Navy and Air Force he does battle inthe land and the sea. He also has at his disposal Green Berets and the Nave Seals.Through his efforts the cocaine supply begins to dry up. Devereaux alsp uses a misinformation campaign and causes the forces of cocaine to fight each other. This is a very good book. The ending will shock you.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2011
Perhaps if I had read the book and not listened to it in the audio version, I would have liked it better. I found it hard to give it my full attention and often drifted away, lost in my own thoughts. With 11 CD's devoting a significant portion of the disc to explanation, it became overwhelming and difficult to remain engaged. I found it tedious, at times, since it had too much detail and explanation, as it attempted to describe every aspect of the drug cartel and its methods and every minute detail of the effort to destroy it. It lacked in action because it was steeped in detail.
The book begins in Washington DC. The President and the First Lady are hosting a small dinner reception and one waitress is reduced to tears while working; Is is soon learned that her grandson has just died and his death is related to cocaine. When the President learns this he becomes disturbed and decides to begin an investigation into drug trafficking in an attempt to stop it, once and for all. Consequently, he requests a report on the cocaine industry and hires John Devereaux, the Cobra, to conduct a clandestine, top secret effort to destroy the industry.
(The President is a man of color which leads one to believe it is based on Obama; also, one of the code names is Michelle and his adviser is a man closely resembling Rahm Emanuel, in personality)
When riots erupt, as the effort nears a successful fruition and drugs disappear from the streets, the White House decides to end it despite its success, and the agent is highly disappointed. He believes his government, that he had devoted his life to, risked his lift to protect, had now betrayed him. There is somewhat of a surprise ending which may or may not disappoint the readers, depending on how involved they become with the novel. For me, the end could not come too soon.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Although the other reviewers do not seem to share my enthusiasm for this book, being a LONG-time Forsyth fan, and realizing that a few of his books were less than stellar, I found this to be one of his VERY best. Amazing story line, incredibly informative about a MAJOR problem that has/is overtaking (en) our country and about which is given LITTLE press time--the drug cartels. I was shocked to discover how prolific these cartels/gangs are; how deeply they have infiltered the various world's countries' leadership, from customs personnel to Presidents; and the unimaginable amount of $ they make, especially at the expense of the lives of the producers, distributers, and of course, addicts. WHY don't we hear MUCH MORE about this terrible threat to our nation's moral fiber, and especially upon our youth???? Corruption is rampant, and this book gave me hope that SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE is actually playing the role of the Cobra in diminshing this horrible business. Yet the ending seems ALL TOO REAL, and this has happened to us in Viet Nam, and the Middle East involvement we have had. Politics trumps humanitarianistic moralism. Needless lives are lost because of political payoffs or personal power seeking. THIS IS TRULY A CRIME WE NEED TO focus our resources on extinguishing. I KNOW we have a LOT to focus on with the horrible economy, immigration, states rights, the "judicial activism" that is superceding the power of both Congress, the Exective Branch, and VOTES OF THE PUBLIC. Sorry...I'll get WAY off my soap box and just HIGHLY recommend your reading this valuable book, for the many reasons listed above. This is one of the most CURRENT relevant fiction I have read in along time.