The latest in the long-running John Wells series (The Prisoner, 2017, etc.), in which the hero has faced high-stakes crises annually since 2006.
Small-time drug dealer Ahmed Shakir is tricked into participating in a terrorist attack at a basketball game in Dallas and then is blown up along with hundreds of others by 400 pounds of C4 explosive. President Vinny Duto summons ex–CIA agent John Wells to travel to Bogotá, Colombia, to investigate a lead on the attack. “Were other attacks in the works?”Of course there were. Meanwhile, Sen. Paul Birman, a likely challenger to Duto in the next election, is on the warpath about Muslims after the Dallas attack. Birman has a cousin, Eric, who hates “Lucky Cousin Paul” and is both a decorated war veteran and a spy for the Russians. Then there’s Tom Miller, who’d been an Army sniper and whose only talent is long-range sharpshooting. He wallows in conspiracy theories that say things like George W. Bush arranged the 9/11 attacks. A homely, lonely virgin, Miller is the “perfect mark” for Allie, a sexy Russian agent who sets him up to be a killer. So he shoots a Missouri megachurch pastor and a Roman Catholic cardinal “because he couldn’t say no to his girlfriend.” The next target could be Sen. Birman or the president himself, so Wells and colleagues face a dangerous challenge in stopping the threat. Fans of the series know that Wells is a convert to Islam, which feels less relevant here than in some of his earlier adventures. Also, he sees himself “as a knight-errant, a modern Don Quixote,” though he’s far more successful than the ancient Spaniard. As often happens, the villains are the most interesting characters—the resentful Eric, the hapless Tom, the conniving Allie.
Another enjoyable entry in a series that’s likely to go on for a while.