Thursday, June 11, 2009

Gauntlet - Richard Aaron

Thanks to Jaime and Dorothy Thompson at "Pump Up Your Book Promotion", I was offered an opportunity to participate in the blog tour of this novel. After a long line of classics, WWII dramas and YA novels, I was ready for a little action, and this one promised it in spades.

An accomplished Afghan businessman and drug smuggler has received orders to facilitate a terrorist attack on the US. While this individual has his reservations in taking his game to a new level, he is primarily motivated by power and the challenge. With the assistance of an international network of associates, he hijacks a large shipment of explosives in Libya, and sets into motion a highly technical plan to bring the US to its knees in a way that has never been seen before. The potential results are terrifying, and could cripple the American economy and claim thousands of lives.

We are introduced to an interesting cast of characters that have the intelligence and skills to stop the attack. There is a drug-addicted Navy pilot. An undercover agent captured and held in an Afghan prison by a sadist with a penchant for amputating body parts. A couple of Canadian drug enforcement agents just doing their job. A newly-established Terrorism Agency run by a pompous yet ignorant rich boy. And at the heart of the story, a young, functional, autistic man that works for the Terrorism Agency. To his boss and co-workers, he is an eccentric flake, but is soon appreciated as a wunderkind. The chase is on to track down the missing explosives and determine the ultimate target. The question is...can they work together to figure it out in time?

This story is intense and gripping from the very start. It's one of those books where you have to remember to breathe, it is so fast-paced and edge-of-your-seat. Uniquely, unlike many other thrillers I've read, this one includes very satisfying character development of the primary personalities. You understand why the pilot is struggling to maintain balance. You flashback into the terrorist's childhood to understand how far he has come, his intelligence, his charisma and surprisingly, his humanity. You walk in the shoes of the autistic prodigy, and your heart breaks for his pain in never fitting in or being understood. The book has a tremendous amount of technical detail that must have required hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of research. The detail makes the story seem very authentic, but is not something that bogged me down. My only struggle was acquainting myself with the players in the first half dozen chapters...there are well over a dozen of them that required a bit of note-taking. When this happens, I just raise my level of reading a notch or two, and ride it out. It all falls into place pretty easily after that.

The ending doesn't tie up all loose ends, but wraps up enough of them to allow me to sleep at night. But best part of all? The sequel is almost completed. Bring it on! (Soon, please.)

4.5 out of 5 stars


Unknown said...

This sort of book has never appealed to me, but I have to admit that I have never read any.

Perhaps I should broaden my book reading habits and try something new.

Great review! You've almost persuaded me - but that submarine is still scaring me!

Anonymous said...

This sounds really good! I love when they grip you from the first moment. But I have trouble remembering all the characters too. I have even gone so far as keeping a makeshift spreadsheet as I read so I don't have to flip back and forth 8,000 times!

Beth F said...

Not particularly for me, but so glad you like it.

Missy B. said...

Great review! The book sounds intense.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Jackie - Its not necessarily a book that our circle of bloggers read, but was alot of fun. I am totally into psychos trying to take over the world.

Rhapsody - yes, my notes were much like a spreadsheet, but only needed it for the first dozen chapters or so.

Beth - It might surprise you...I think you would like it!

Missy - you are absolutely correct. It was very intense, but a blast to read!

Melody said...

I have to admit I rarely read this, but still I might want to check it out. Thanks for the great review, Sandy!

Literary Feline said...

This sounds so good! I like intense and throw in good character development and you have me hooked. Thanks for the great review, Sandy.

Staci said...

You've got me hooked!!!!

Darlene said...

I'm not sure this is the type of story for me but you sure made it sound good. I'm glad you liked it so much and are anxious for a sequel. That's always a good sign.