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The Night Ranger (A John Wells Novel) Hardcover – February 12, 2013

4.2 out of 5 stars 407 customer reviews
Book 7 of 9 in the John Wells Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Four young Americans, volunteers in a Kenyan refugee camp overflowing with Somalis, are kidnapped. Former CIA deep-cover operative John Wells is enjoying life in the New Hampshire woods with his lady, Anne, until his estranged son implores him to go to Africa to rescue the hostages. Reluctantly, for Wells’ expertise is the Middle East, the practicing Muslim heads for Africa as pressure mounts on the White House to invade Somalia. Another tragic war hangs on his success or failure. Berenson’s Wells novels are reliably entertaining. This one features plenty of action and insightful contextual details about Somalia, the enormous refugee camps, Kenyan and Somali culture, and the violent, Darwinian competition between rival Somali militias. And, as always, there is the shadow of CIA Director Vinnie Duto, pulling strings in the background. This time he’s on Wells’ side: as the architect of drone warfare, he doesn’t want boots on the ground in Somalia. Besides, he’s gearing up for a Senate run. Berenson’s followers will be pleased with this one. --Thomas Gaughan

Review

Praise for THE NIGHT RANGER

"A tense thriller that relies equally on bravery, wit, and 21st-century American firepower . . . Berenson gives readers top-notch, fast-paced excitement in a part of the world unfamiliar to many Americans.  John Wells is a worthy hero readers can count on."—Kirkus Reviews

"The chaos of East Africa and the complex realities of relief efforts in that region form the backdrop for Edgar-winner Berenson's gripping seventh thriller . . . Taut prose, plausible action, and plenty of plot surprises ensure another winner for this perennial bestseller."—Publishers Weekly

Praise for Alex Berenson
 

“Alex Berenson is writing first-rate commercial fiction on a par with Daniel Silva.”—The Washington Post
 

“Berenson is one of the best writers in the espionage genre today.”—Chicago Sun-Times

“Berenson’s series of espionage thrillers featuring John Wells are among the most well-written, carefully-researched and meticulously plotted novels one is likely to encounter in any genre”—Bookreporter

“Berenson rises above the thriller genre.”—St. Louis Post–Dispatch

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Product Details

  • Series: A John Wells Novel
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons; First Edition edition (February 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039915972X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399159725
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (407 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #326,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
John Wells was presented to the literary world by Alex Berenson in April 2006 via his novel "The Faithful Spy". He was introduced as a CIA agent at the final point of working within an al qaeda band in Pakistan for two years. He is described as the first American to ever successfully infiltrate an al qaeda group. After that most unusual beginning John has taken part in several very well written and researched books; mainly involving Islamic terrorists as protagonists. The Night Ranger is the first Well's book set on the African continent. A group of American volunteers, two young men and two women are working with a charity group in Kenya involved in helping Somali refugees in camps there. They decide that a short vacation is needed to get away from the stress of trying to keep up with the overwhelming needs of the refugees. While traveling to the vacation area they are taken prisoner by Somali bandits whose intentions seem to be to ransom them and subsequently release them.
When their captivity drags on John Well's estranged son calls him after years of having no contact to ask him to intervene and try to free the four. One of the girls is his son's girlfriend's sister. John agrees to try and rescue the captives in order to possibly reestablish a relationship with the boy, and travels to Kenya to try and free them. Like the other Well's books the action is fast and keeps the reader glued to the pages. John, while no longer a member of the CIA coordinates his efforts with his ex supervisor since the US becomes officially interested in rescuing the volunteers, up to and including possibly sending in an invading force.
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Format: Hardcover
Well, I guess I won't be joining in the cheering section for this book.

I won't rehash the whole story line here, as this is a review and not a synopsis. You can get that on the book's Product Page (and evidently some of the other reviews).

Here's my take. John Wells (Berenson's central character) has, throughout the rest of the series, been involved in missions with very high stakes on the geo-political stage. That lends an element of tension and import to the stories that's completely missing here.

In Africa some kids who work to aid starving Somalis in the camps are kidnapped. Wells's estranged son persuades him to get involved as a personal favor. Wells shows up and starts trying to solve the mystery of who took them: criminals seeking ransom? Terrorists? Somali rebels? Is it an inside job?

The problems as I see them are these. First of all, this is essentially a pretty small story that takes place on a pretty small stage, much smaller than we're used to seeing Wells involved in. This is more a Jack Reacher kind of story.

The book moves VERY slowly, because we follow each event in the book from several perspectives: the kidnap victims', Well's, the kidnappers', and in many cases from the perspective of Wells's ex-boss and friend Ellis Schaeffer. Though this does give us the full picture of events, it really bogs down the flow of the story.

The story never really builds up much tension; I just didn't feel it.

The big mortal blow is that there's a character central to the plot who's definitely responsible for the events that take place (I'm being circumspect so as not to write a spoiler) ... and we never get any emotional payoff of seeing him pay for what he did!

So, a big disappointment. A generous three stars.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I keep reading the John Wells novels, if only so that I can continue to make fun of the ex-CIA hard case who's a sensitive New Age guy.

On this reading (I've read several of these), I doublechecked that the author was actually a man. Alex could be a woman's name, and if so that might have explained why John Wells is so blatantly drawn as a feminist fantasy. Nope, Alex Berenson is a man. There's just no excuse.

Wells is way too nice. He has politically correct thoughts. When he enters the trailer of two kidnapped aid workers to see if he can find any clues, he actually thinks the following: "The trailer was cluttered with what Wells would always think of as girl stuff, nail files, shampoo bottles, and panties. . . . He poked around halfheartedly, but the search depressed him. He hoped he didn't find anything too intimate, not just topless photos or love letters, but the private stumblings that everyone had at home, expired vitamins and half-finished doodles and unread Christmas cards."

Excuse me, but no man would ever think this. A man would think, "These two girls are kidnapped and might die. Let's see if I can find anything suggesting who did it. Hmm, nice undies. Bet she fills those out nicely. OK, get your mind out of the gutter and back on task." He wouldn't go off on some women's-studies fugue wondering if they'd feel violated by some guy rummaging through their underwear. (Since they're much more likely to be violated by the gunmen he's trying to rescue them from.)

Retired from the CIA, he's living with a woman cop in New Hampshire and completely useless with tools. This might be common among New York Times reporters like Alex Berenson, but I doubt it's common with field operatives like Wells, who was an Army Ranger.
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