Cook’s (Cooch, 2010) latest political thriller features Alex “Cooch” Cuchulain, a CIA-trained killer with a number of advanced degrees, who leads a diverse team on a mission to bring peace to the Middle East.
Cooch is a bad enemy to make: He benefits not only from his advanced training but also from a violent second personality, named Dain, who has helped him and his ancestors win fights for generations. Cooch’s latest plan also involves cutting-edge technology that identifies targeted terrorists with incredible proficiency. The largely noble ideas behind the team’s plot—they have a long-term plan to build universities in the region—tend to advocate education and aid over violence. However, the discussion of Islam occasionally becomes disquietingly generalized: For instance, a terrorist is described as a “devout Shiite” rather than a radical Shiite. Also, the goal to “bring the American way of life to the Muslim world” implies that the American way of life is inherently better than the Muslim way of life, as if the concepts can’t intersect. The plot, however, moves rapidly with plenty of variety. Hamza, an al-Qaida leader in Yemen, plans on blowing up Cowboys Stadium, while Cuchulain fights Mexican drug dealers in Texas, and members of Cuchulain’s team discuss foreign policy in Washington. Unfortunately, the numerous intriguing plotlines aren’t always sustained, and the unique characters don’t develop. Two of the narratives do converge when Hamza captures and tortures Cuchulain, whose dual personality feels a bit out of place in the otherwise harshly realistic narrative.
An ambitious, entertaining novel that struggles to come together.