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THE AMERICAN by Andrew Britton

THE AMERICAN

By Andrew Britton

Pub Date: March 7th, 2006
ISBN: 0-7582-1333-6
Publisher: Kensington

A debut thriller about a vengeful terrorist who proposes to destroy the United States.

He begins by assassinating a U.S. senator. Next, he proposes to take out the president, plus whatever dignitaries happen to be in the vicinity when his bomb explodes, and go on from there, murdering en masse. He is—it need hardly be said—your basic archfiend, brilliant, remorseless, the kind the genre battens on (see The Day of the Jackal, etc.). Which is to say he's amoral as a lab rat, a genius at explosives, a wiz of a sniper and a tactician who might have impressed even Clausewitz. Nor will it come as a surprise that he has ties to al-Qaeda. He blames the U.S. for betrayals that led to the ignominious collapse of his family fortunes and has the long, implacable memory that defines a world-class grudge-holder. “Jason March is one of the most dangerous men the U.S. military has ever produced,” says CIA stud Ryan Kealey, and he ought to know, having trained him. Matched against supervillain March, then, is superhero Kealey, the protagonist of Britton's planned trilogy. He has the “penetrating gray eyes,” the rugged good looks and the maverick mindset that allows him to take the law into his own hands whenever it seems to him that the fate of the nation rests there as well. Kealey also has the requisite female sidekick (brainy, leggy), useful for titillation between bouts of bloodletting. So the game's afoot, predator vs. prey, though it's not always easy to tell them apart, or even which stone-cold killer to root for.

Plot and cast have that derivative feel, and while the 24-year-old debut novelist can serve up an arresting action scene, that isn't enough to counter the pervasive pall of déjà vu.