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The Midnight House (A John Wells Novel) Paperback – December 4, 2012
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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.
(Photo of Alex Berenson © Sigrid Estrada) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Suddenly, team members start disappearing, or are killed outright. One was a "suicide" or was it? Out of the original team, only three are still alive.
This book has a lower keyed John Wells, he is getting older, still big and strong, but a little slower, and smarter. He enters the domain of the puppet masters and is disgusted and disillusioned.
I am a rabid fan of Lee Child and Alex Berenson fills the gap. This is a slower book, but it's not boring, unless you like page after page of shoot em ups. There is action, not as much, but give us a glimpse of those offices and the men who run them.
This is not a Wells driven novel, but an events driven novel, the events that took place in 2008 are driving the events of the present, in which Wells finds himself in. Like the reader, he does not know what is going on, he is given a small amount of information and he has to find out who is killing American soldiers. As Wells finds new information, the story flashes back to that event.
Unfortunately, there was no real "new way" to do this story line (this would be why this is the weakest book of the series). So the obvious in the story tends to be the obvious, there was just no way for Berenson to add a new twist to the story and still fall into reality. I was talking to a friend of mine about the novel, I told him a few snippets of it and he was able to lay out the possible ending. He was more right than wrong. So this has been done before, so Berenson did not break any new ground, other than just presented a new side of John Wells.
Possible Spoilers Below
I would have expanded the story, have a CIA or FBI investigate the murders (introduce new character), while John Wells investigate the sources of information coming from "Midnight House" in Pakistan, Egypt, etc. One of the threads at the end of the novel was the assassination of Bhutto Benazir, this came from an interrogation at Midnight House, this would have been a good plot line for John Wells to investigate.
I think that could have made a stronger story and not come across as been "done before".
What a pleasant surprise. As bad as the previous book was, this was a great read, convoluted plot, well written and thoroughly entertaining. It still has the tough guy scenes but matures into the supposed twisted minds and games of those in power playing their chess games with countries and their people .
It kept me reading ..