Another “blood-spatter messy” mission by Muslim CIA freelance operator John Wells (The Wolves, 2016, etc.).
Wells’ ex-girlfriend Anne pegs him perfectly when she says she's “amazed the sun rises every day without you to cart it around.” Certainly the CIA wouldn’t be the same without his heroics. He converted to Islam during a mission in Afghanistan years earlier, and the CIA doubted his loyalty, which he's since proven repeatedly. His religion isn’t political and relates more to his view of Creation than to the Middle East. Now his old boss Ellis Shafer correctly suspects the CIA has a mole feeding information to the Islamic State group, which could be planning a major attack on the West. Wells’ mission, approved by President Vinny Duto, is to go undercover to learn the jihadi plot from an IS terrorist in a Bulgarian prison. He becomes Samir Khalili, a man who “quoted the Quran and hated heroin.” The CIA cooks up a back story that he's an al-Qaida fighter who has been captured in Afghanistan and is now being dumped in the same Bulgarian hellhole. Once he’s there, the guards don’t know his real identity, so they treat him like any other “jihadi scum.” It’s a good thing he’s tough, because the guards dish out serious abuse. But danger is his comfort zone, and he’s never better than when he’s in trouble. Meanwhile, the mole the CIA is looking for, a man who calls himself Wayne (after John Wayne), tries to get info on Wells’ mission to betray him. Wayne thinks the U.S. simply spreads pain around the world and expects “love in return.” The jihadis want weapons of mass destruction and consider weaponizing anthrax, but they decide instead on sarin gas, conducting grisly but successful tests on prisoners. Eventually they obtain enough sarin to kill hundreds of people, and they know just how they’ll do it—by creating “a house of the dead.” As always, Wells proves himself to be tough and smart—he still needs both qualities once he’s sprung from prison.
Deeply researched, fast-paced, and believable. Peace be upon John Wells, but only after he’s helped defeat jihad once and for all. That's sure to extend this fine series.