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Black: A Novel

A book by Christopher Whitcomb

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I enjoyed it right up to the ending...

  • Jan 1, 2010
Rating:
+3
A friend recommended this novel to me... Black by Christopher Whitcomb. Since he knows I like espionage novels, he had a pretty good idea I'd like this one. And for the most part, he was right. Whitcomb brings his background as a member of the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team into play to write a novel that has a number of threads that all attempt to come together at the end. I say "attempt" as I wasn't overly enthused about the way it wrapped up, but up to that point it was good...

The story revolves around Jeremy Waller, a rookie member of the Hostage Rescue Team. He has an instinct to do things that most agents wouldn't think of in tight situations, and as such he's relatively unpredictable to both his enemies and his fellow agents. He gets sucked into a black ops trip into the Middle East to assassinate a high-ranking Al-Queda leader. But things go bad as a large number of innocents get gunned down as collaterial damage. He's having a very hard time dealing with that, and his questions are being covered up at every level above him. At the same time, Senator Elizabeth Beechum, a staunch defender of the intelligence community, is going head to head with a billionaire, Jordan Mitchell, who has developed a cell phone encryption technique that has rendered government evesdropping obsolete. And what's worse, he's going to sell it to the Saudis. The Senator is set up on a murder charge and is systematically stripped of her Senate posts bit by bit. Mitchell is set to make billions more with his cell phones, which may have a secondary feature built in that no one knows about. And on top of it all, a newly minted executive at his company, Sirad Malneaux, is not all she appears to be. Mitchell knows that her background is false, but wants to follow her to see where it leads. She has no objection to using her charms to get what she wants, and what she wants are the plans for what Mitchell is up to. All these threads start interweaving to a final confrontation where no one seems to be who they appeared to be after all...

Leading up to the end, I liked the story. Waller's striving to make the cut to become a member of the HRT... Malneaux's mysterious background... Mitchell's view that making money should trump government intelligence needs. Watching Waller work through various training missions and actual hostage situations was engrossing, as you didn't know quite how things were going to turn out in either case. As the book progressed, I started to wonder exactly how all these threads were going to come together in the end, as they remained distinct for the longest time. And unfortunately, I wasn't rewarded with the best payoff in my opinion. The ending felt contrived and hollow, and seemed to be nothing more than a setup for a follow-on novel (which is probably his next book White).

I'll probably end up reading the next novel in the series in hopes that Whitcomb builds out the characters in their new roles and does a better job in wrapping up a story. And I'm not sorry I read this one, either. It's just that I would have liked a better ending than I got...

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Library
Payment: Borrowed

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About the reviewer
Thomas Duff ()
Ranked #43
Thomas Duff, aka "Duffbert", is a long-time member of the Lotus community. He's primarily focused on the development side of the Notes/Domino environment, currently working for a large insurance … more
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Whitcomb (Cold Zero: Inside the FBI Hostage Rescue Team) parlays the experiences and expertise of a 15-year career with the FBI into a cutting-edge counterterrorism thriller. Imaginative plotting, rock-solid prose, fascinating technology and blasts of furious action will hold readers hostage until the last surprising pages. Whitcomb deftly shuffles a quartet of intriguing characters—Jeremy Waller, a member of the elite, top-secret FBI hostage rescue team; Sen. Elizabeth Beechum, chair of the Senate intelligence committee; Jordan Mitchell, the cold, brilliant CEO of Borders Atlantic, the world's largest telecommunications company; and beautiful Sirad Malneaux, an executive in the Borders Atlantic Atlanta office—who, except for Mitchell, soon face extraordinary danger. Jeremy must kill or be killed in Yemen; Senator Beechum is attacked in her home and later charged with murdering her attacker; and Sirad has a secret agenda that pits her against her employers. Only Mitchell, the puppet master, remains in control. His new Borders Atlantic super cell phone boasts "a totally secure, low-cost encryption system that would allow virtually any subscriber to communicate without fear of interception," which, of course, makes it a perfect tool for terrorists. Eventually, the four related stories meld into one, and on the final pages jaws will drop as readers find that everything they thought they knew about the story was wrong. This is a stellar thriller from an exciting new ...
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Details

ISBN-10: 0316601012
ISBN-13: 978-0316601016
Author: Christopher Whitcomb
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

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