“It’s a lot tougher to know what to do when the only choices are bad and worse.” (Peter Newman, 224)
It’s been a number of years since I completed Mission Compromised (Book 1 in the series) by this same author-duo, and it took some convincing to get me back into it again, and I’m glad I did. Whereas that first book felt like a chore to read, The Jericho Sanction (Book 2) is a thrilling tale that left me pleasantly surprised.
Compromised simply lacked the edge-of-your-seat action found in Jericho. I can recall trying to trudge my way through that thick story, where the authors spent a great deal of ink describing the intricacies of a satellite phone that I really didn’t care a whole lot about. I can also recall a that neither of the authors could quite figure out how to faithfully portray the heart of a women, Rachel Newman, whose dialogue and behavior felt fabricated, as if by a retired, war-hardened marine Colonel (or something). But Jericho is another novel altogether.
At the opening of this tale, Colonel Peter Newman and his wife, Rachel, are in hiding under assumed names in a Christian collective in Jerusalem. When their cover is blown by a spy in the US government, things go haywire. An old enemy catches wind of their trail, and Rachel and her Israeli friend are kidnapped. Peter must suddenly balance a secretive call to arms in the Middle East, a desperate search for his wife, and a sudden thirst for revenge against his Russian tormentor.
This book was a true pleasure to read, for while it offered the same mystery, suspense, and action that I might find in any Clive Cussler hit, it did so from two optimal perspectives: both of a truly knowledgeable military professional and of a morally attuned Christian. Oliver North’s decades of experience in military operations and international espionage have suited him well to deliver to his readers powerfully believable plots and dialogue, and his Christian demeanor keeps theology in the mix and vulgarity out of it. These novels are, of course, purely entertainment, yet it’s nice to read an engaging story that also emphasizes prayer inside the upper echelons of our military as well as the moral considerations and internal battles these soldiers and military leaders must face in the heat of battle. Where else could you read a modern-day U.S. General telling his subordinates something like this: “Pray, and expect God to answer. Act, and expect positive results…You have to do both.” (General Grisham, 299) Some might be saying this, but it’s certainly not being reported.
I appreciated the flow of the story, which took place in various cities all over the world, for it came in short snippets rather than long chapters, which kept the suspense high. I was also surprised to find that I actually cared about reading the bold-faced setting notes at the beginning of each section in order to know where I was and when. For some reason, I generally skip such intrusions into my novels and try to avoid books that depend on them. But North’s novel is so full that these little cues were quite helpful in keeping my bearings.
I’d recommend this book (and I suppose the whole series, if you really want the backstory) to those looking for a high-quality, low-filth action/suspense novel. I look forward to reading Book 3, Assassins, sometime soon, and I hope that it’s simply more of the same.