Alex Berenson continues to write engrossing thrillers starring the redoubtable John Wells, who is again called upon to find victims of a kidnapping, but in this case, its young teenagers in Africa. Again and again, Berenson has had Wells involved in different corners of the world in interesting plots that do not involve your standard thriller tropes. 'Night Ranger" http://www.amazon.com/Night-Ranger-John-Wells-Novel/dp/039915972X is no exception.
John Wells receives a call from his son Evan in Montana. Four University of Montana students volunteering in a charitable food relief effort in Kenya have been kidnapped while driving in a truck on their way to a vacation at a resort. It is suspected that Muslim terrorists have seized the group. Evan is the friend of the sister of Gwen Murphy, one of the hostages, and asks Wells if he will go to Africa and find the hostages. Wells hops on the nearest plane.
Berenson adeptly switches back and forth between the terrified hostages and Wells, who first finds something fishy in the fact that James Thompson, the leader of the charity, who seems to be about to come out with a new book, and is the uncle of one of the teenage hostages, has a blank burner phone on him. Enlisting the help of his old boss Shafer, at the CIA, it turns out that the phone is being used to call only one number. Wells becomes suspicious that the teens may be the unwilling victims of Thompson's nefarious money making operation.
Meanwhile the teens are being treated harshly, but not harmed and the story of their abduction has become big news.
A local warlord, the very young Wizard and his band of White Men, who all wear white tee shirts, hears about the kidnapping and thinks the teens may be a way to make some money and thwart another warlord band led by his arch-enemy Awale. Awale has many more men and 12 technicals, pickup trucks with heavy machine guns on them. Awale wants Wizard and his men off his turf.
Wizard's men find the teens, kill the teens' kidnappers and retake the teens with the idea of selling them to the highest bidder.
Unknowing of Wizard's involvement, Wells and a local fixer, following the trail of the teens' trip come upon a small killing zone, where hyenas are feasting on dead men. After scaring away the nasty hyenas, Wells and his friend will come under fire from several of Wizard's men sent back to deal with Wells. Wells uses a cellphone found after the firefight to contact Wizard to offer a ransom for the hostage's release.
But deals with local warlords sometimes require more than money, and Wells, Shafer and a new weapon on the world of terror will have to get involved in a confrontation between Wizard and Awale, with Wells' life and the hostages at stake.
There is a lot of hot action in this novel, but its primarily the story of how Wells, in a new world, limited by an inability to speak the local lingo, but still using his insight and military skill, is able to track down the teens. Its also a story about the teen's fight to survive under harsh circumstances.
Berenson has shown an admirable ability to keep the John Wells' books fresh and interesting by limiting the stories to real world situations set in a much wider world. Far from the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and the hills of Afghanistan, where earlier novels were set, this new entry located in the unforgiving and harsh world in the border lands between Kenya and Somalia, stands out in the increasingly crowded thriller universe.
Berenson still hits all the right buttons and this 7th book in this series http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/?series_id=569576 is another winner.
Its another winner.