Title: First Strike
Author: Ben Coes
Publication Date: 28 June 2016
Every hour, someone will be killed
A top-secret black ops program operates from deep within the Pentagon. The objective: to stop devastating terrorist acts. The means: secretly enabling a hand-picked man, the charismatic Tristan Nazir, to emerge as the most powerful leader in the Middle East. But Nazir double-crosses his superiors, twisting the plan to his own violent ends: the creation of ISIS.
Elite operative Dewey Andreas is sent to Syria to find out more about the enemy. His cover is blown mid-operation and chaos erupts in the streets of Damascus. Trapped and outnumbered, Dewey learns the awful truth – unknown even at the highest levels of office – that ISIS munitions were indeed provided by rogue elements within the U.S. government.
This information arrives in time for the U.S. to cut off a final arms shipment before it reaches terrorist hands. But the vicious Nazir is far from finished. In retaliation he holds the West hostage, launching an audacious strike at the very heart of New York City…
In a situation with no solutions, there remains only one option: Dewey Andreas.
One of the days I look forward to the most each year is the day that Ben Coes publishes his new Dewey Andreas novel because I know I am always going to get a great read when I pick up a book with Ben Coes name on the front. Having now read through the book, I can safely say that First Strike not only lived up to expectations, but absolutely smashed them. It is without a doubt my favourite of Coes’ work.
First Strike is Ben Coes’ sixth spy thriller novel featuring Dewey Andreas. When CIA station chief in Milan, Rick Mallory, is approached by a member of ISIS, he is given proof that it may be America herself who has created and funded ISIS. When Dewey is sent to collect the proof, he and Mallory are set upon by ISIS, but the US is able to stop a shipment of weapons before they reach ISIS hands. However ISIS leader Tristan Nazir isn’t content to let the shipment go and has a team storm Columbia University take over 500 students hostage, promising to execute one student every hour until the receive their shipment.
I felt that the story was quite slow at the start and it took a while to kick into gear, but once it did, all I can say is wow. The second half of the book is amazing and quite possibly the best spy thriller stuff I’ve ever read. I don’t think I have ever gotten so wrapped up in a book as I did with the second half of First Strike. It kind of reminded me of Vince Flynn’s Transfer of Power, which is one of my favourite books ever, and there was so much suspense that I both dreaded and had to know what was going to happen next. The second half of the book more than makes up for the slow start.
I enjoyed the plot of the book and I thought it was interesting that despite the major trend in thrillers recently of using ISIS as the bad guys, Coes is able to come up with a story that is totally different to everything else out there. The plot may not be as realistic as others in the genre, and that’s usually a turn off for me, but Coes writing is so strong that he could probably make me believe anything was real. Like I said, Coes writing sucked me in like no one else has been able to before.
It was also good to see a more positive Dewey than we’ve seen in the previous books. One of the things that really makes Dewey and Ben Coes stand out in the genre is that he is able to balance a serious story with the occasional dry joke. I felt that had been missing from the last book or two (understandably based on what Dewey’s gone through) and I was glad to see Dewey coming out with some hilarious one liners again.
In terms of character development, I would have liked to see a bit more of Tristan Nazir. While Coes did build him up to be a formidable villain, he was just little hands-off for me to really get interested in. I also would have liked to have seen more of Jack Sullivan. I thought he was a pretty cool twist thrown in, but there wasn’t a whole lot of him. Apart from that, the rest of the characters were superb as always.
Ben Coes and Dewey Andreas are back with yet another amazing thriller that is packed to the rafters with action and has such a suspenseful story that you won’t want to put it down. As always, First Strike has left me wanting more and I can’t wait for the next instalment.
Worth a read? For spy thriller fans, First Strike is absolutely worth a read. It expertly combines thrilling action and a suspenseful story in a way that no other author in the genre can. As Brad Thor’s quote on the cover says, it definitely “blows the competition away!”