BLOW THE HOUSE DOWN by Robert Baer

BLOW THE HOUSE DOWN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Baer, whose memoir See No Evil (2002) inspired the film Syriana, puts his decades of intelligence work to good use in this predictably hard-boiled but unflaggingly entertaining tale of a terror plot and the renegade spy hell-bent on disrupting it.

Like many a fictional spy before him, Maxwell Waller has a habit of asking inconvenient questions. In this case, his questions are inconvenient enough to get him investigated by the FBI and unceremoniously tossed from his gig at the CIA—and that’s just the start of his troubles. After being double-crossed by an old Agency friend who’s promised to hook him up with a new job in Europe, Waller finds himself cut loose on foreign soil, pursued by the agents of any number of intelligence outfits and left with nothing but his wits and a Rolodex stuffed with shady connections to protect him. And so he heads out on the road in grand disgraced spy-style, running from the clutches of his former colleagues and calling in favors from old contacts around the globe. As one might expect, given Baer’s background, he spends a fair bit of energy detailing the nuts and bolts of the spy trade—breaking into a Swiss bank, shaking surveillance in midtown Manhattan, entering France with a fake passport—which makes for an engrossing (if perhaps not representative) inside look at the basics of the business. Meanwhile, he keeps the plot twists coming, carrying readers along on a wave of action until they’re left feeling every bit as untethered as the constantly on-the-run protagonist. By the end, though, the loose strands come together neatly as Waller makes it back stateside with evidence of an impending (and implausible—though not too distractingly so) terror plot. Whether or not he can do anything to stop it, however, is another matter entirely.

A wild ride filled with the sort of insider details that make a difference.

Pub Date: May 30th, 2006
ISBN: 1-4000-9835-1
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2006




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