Booklist Starred Review ★
Foreword Reviews ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
With an international scope and surprising plot twists, A. M. Khalifa storms the thriller scene with his debut novel, Terminal Rage. The action begins with the kind of high-stakes situation usually found at the climax of a novel: twenty-five hostages holed up on the thirty-ninth floor of a Manhattan skyscraper, the threat of four random child care centers wired with explosives, and a proposal to exchange a kidnapped senator's daughter for the release of two terrorists from an Egyptian prison.
Khalifa manages to pull off something that is often difficult to do in the crime-thriller genre--he keeps the novel unpredictable and lays out a plot so twisted that the puzzle picture morphs as more pieces are added. Though the lack of information about Khalifa makes him seem as enigmatic as the villain in his book, his writing speaks for itself. The mixture of clear, concise action, out-of-the-box characters, global settings, and didn't-see-that-coming twists creates a craving for more when the last page is turned.
Khalifa's novel is authoritative, lively, and intriguing--an undeniable page-turner. Action-filled sequences and meticulous plotting result in a fun and well-rounded thriller. The prose is descriptive and acute, and it is clear that Khalifa acts on seasoned authorial impulses. Potentially dry information is delivered dynamically, and as the scenes race by, the imagery lingers--sometimes hauntingly.This fast paced mystery is set apart from other politically minded mystery-thrillers by its specificity and its fully inhabited characters. Khalifa's work delivers a fresh and multifaceted take on the genre. Rooted in their past traumas, the characters are empathetic, well-developed, and believable. While the forces for good and evil are apparent, Khalifa renders villains and heroes with nuance.
Khalifa starts out grabbing the reader by the throat in the beginning of the story and not letting go until the very last page. The stakes continue to grow with each scene; just when you think it can't get worse, it does.
Scott Whitmore ★ ★ ★ ★ ★Terminal Rage is a multi-layered story that is topical and yet also timeless, with a real emotional edge underpinning it. The well-conceived plot twists along the way had me nodding my head in admiration of the author's imagination and storytelling ability, which I would compare favorably to the best of Robert Ludlum, Frederick Forsyth or Ken Follett. Writing this review is a bit like encouraging someone who hasn't seen the movie The Sixth Sense to watch it without telling them Bruce Willis is dead; you want people to know how great it is but you don't want to rob them of those "oh, wow" moments. As a reader, those times when well-crafted pieces of a plot puzzle finally slot together and the logic of the author's intentions become clear are very satisfying.