I’ve had a passing interest in Oliver North ever since college, when I first saw him on Fox News giving an interview about his own story, a story I was too young to care about when the news of Iran Contra first broke. Since then, and after a bit of research, I found that he was an honorable guy with a solid faith and a whole lifetime of knowledge that would be worth reading more about. I’ve never read Taking the Stand, but have gotten into his novels and have found them to be exciting, technically accurate reads.
Mission Compromised was first my attempt with Oliver North, and fittingly so, for this book also marks the beginning of Colonel Newman’s career and is Book 1 in a growing series (followed next by The Jericho Sanction). I found it especially cool that Newman takes over for a retiring Lt. Colonel Oliver North. While this book certainly doesn’t offer page-by-page action and excitement, I didn’t really mind, because I recognized that North was pursuing realism more than the average author might, because unlike a Tom Clancy, North actually lived this stuff. Of course, he did spend a ridiculous number of pages describing the inner working of the Encryption Lock 3, which got a little annoying, yet I understand that even this evidences his incredible attention to detail. So even that can be forgiven.
Further, I appreciated that the chase to find the terrorist who killed Newman’s own brother is just a fraction of the overall story. Along with this plot, North also masterfully intertwines a religious aspect that never seems forced but instead adds real life to his story. No one can fault him for his plots of choice, because for all we know, every detail has been pulled from actual events and from North’s own experiences. Really, the only thing that I’d hold against him is how he and Musser wrote the female characters’ lines. Rather than sounding natural, these dialogues sound way too much like how a man thinks women must speak to each other rather than how women actually speak. It seems pretty clear that the career-military-man, Oliver North, is no romantic. But honestly, what can you expect?
Incidentally, when I was about one-quarter way through this book, I came across a copy of TIME Magazine from January, 1986. The shocking thing was, I was living in China at the time! The articles in that particular issue were all about the events immediately following the explosive revelations of Iran Contra, and at that time, there was mere speculation about Oliver North’s possible involvement. Such a happenstance really helped me get into this book even more, for it felt as if I were reading a part of history as yet unwritten.
Overall, I’d rate this novel high on a list of military or spy novels, if I had such a list. The suspense mounted gradually, but it really struck in the final chapters, forcing me to read them as fast as I could. While I wouldn’t call it “a Christian novel,” I would certainly recommend it to other Christians for its cleanliness and biblical worldview regarding the evil world of terrorism.