Title: The Wolves
Author: Alex Berenson
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: 9 February 2016
The latest thriller from the New York Times–bestselling author of Twelve Days, Alex Berenson.
John Wells has just barely managed to stop an operation designed to drive the United States and Iran into war, but the instigator himself disappeared behind an impenetrable war of security. Now it’s time for him to pay, and Wells has made it his personal mission. There are plenty of crosscurrents at work, though. The White House doesn’t want anybody stirring the pot; his old CIA bosses have their own agendas; other countries are starting to sniff around, sensing something unusual. It is when Russia and China enter the mix, however, that the whole affair is set to combust. With alarming speed, Wells is once again on his own . . . and the wolves are closing in.
This book felt like a step back in the right direction. I don’t want to say that Alex Berenson’s books are hit and miss for me, because they’re all good, but rather they seem to range from just good to amazing. I thought the last couple of books were closer to the “just good” end of the scale so it is good to see that Berenson has bounced back with what I feel is one of his better books.
The Wolves is Alex Berenson’s tenth spy novel featuring John Wells. The book picks up right where the previous novel Twelve Days left off, with Wells taking time off to heal up his injuries before going to seek revenge on the man who almost tricked the United States into starting a war with Iran, billionaire Aaron Duberman.
While The Wolves does directly follow on from Twelve Days, it has a totally different feel. Where Twelve Days had a frenetic pace and action galore, The Wolves is much slower and I feel it is much more about the characters. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still action like all the other books in the series, but it’s not as flat-out as the last couple.
The book is also a bit of a departure from the theme of Berenson’s previous books, and most books in the spy thriller genre, in that there is no real impending terrorist threat in the book. Rather The Wolves is more of a book about revenge and the consequences that peoples’ actions can have. That’s not a theme that I had really ever seen fleshed out in a spy thriller, so it was interesting to see a whole book focus on an aspect that usually takes up the last chapter or two in other books.
This book shows that Alex Berenson has a strong grasp of characters. While Wells has always been interesting due to the fact that he mainly hunts Muslim terrorists, despite being a Muslim himself, The Wolves really shows Berenson’s ability to humanise the bad guys and make you not hate them as much as you probably should. On top of that, Ellis Shafer is probably my favourite secondary character in any book series. He’s just a cynical old man who has no respect for authority and pretty much everything that comes out of his mouth is gold.
While I have pointed out the many differences between this book and Berenson’s others, there is still a lot the same. There’s still the action, albeit not as much of it, and Berenson still has that same writing style that makes you think more than the average spy thriller does. All in all, The Wolves has got me excited for John Wells again and I can’t wait to see what Berenson does next time.
Worth a read? If you’re looking for a spy thriller that is a little bit different from the usual story featuring a super-spy saving the world from an impending terror threat, then this book is definitely worth a read. The Wolves focuses more on consequences than actions and is a different take on the spy thriller. While it can be read alone, it will be probably be more enjoyable if you follow the whole story which starts in The Counterfeit Agent, continues in Twelve Days and ends in The Wolves.