Terrorists planning a New Year’s Eve attack against the U.S. are working with people on American soil in Turney’s debut thriller.
In the post-9/11 world, federal agents pay meticulous attention to seemingly harmless behavior. But what appears to be a routine check on a monitored website in Arizona leads from an Arkansas redneck looking to mix a poisonous concoction for personal reasons to an Islamic extremist in Vegas who has already piqued the FBI’s curiosity. Mixed martial artist Taseen “Taz” Hamshan, with ties to the extremist, is recruited by agent Kyle Morel to go undercover and make nice with a suspected terrorist. But how are the terrorists staying ahead of the FBI? At first glance, readers might suspect that Turney’s 600-plus-page novel would hit lulls. Nope. He allows no off-the-cuff introduction to any character or subplot, providing rich back stories and, surprisingly, never dropping any of the minor plots. Even agents sent to handle mundane surveillance are established in detail—which makes it startling when anyone dies. It’s epic, almost excessively so, but the author does keep the numerous characters from overwhelming the book with subtle reintroductions, such as a soft reminder that Russian intelligence operative Kondrashov is watching the Iranian and Venezuelan presidents. Despite the multiple storylines, there’s cohesion. However, the novel might have benefited from giving stories and characters some breathing room. And the U.S. isn’t the squeaky-clean hero among indignant foreign countries—American citizens must contend with an unpopular president, while Russian agents, despite their country’s neutrality, debate warning the U.S. of a possible jihadist attack. The author laces the story together with striking transitions—evidence being blown up shifts to people watching pyrotechnics at the Treasure Island casino. As the New Year’s celebration approaches, Turney maintains intensity with a natural countdown and an abundance of people in peril. And don’t forget: One of the characters is a jihadist mole.
Like a 12-episode TV series condensed into a single book—categorically engaging, but occasionally overstuffed.