Review

The Exile

by Andrew Britton

There has been too long a period of time between the publication
of THE INVISIBLE and Andrew Britton’s new book, THE EXILE. As
those familiar with Britton’s work might expect, however, it
is well worth the wait. Ryan Kealey, an ex-Special Forces operator
and former CIA agent, is an outwardly confident, inwardly tortured
soul who would rather be left alone. He nonetheless is possessed of
a skill set that does not permit that state of existence, as THE
EXILE so demonstrates.

Britton’s literary style lends itself wonderfully to the
thriller genre. He is an intelligent and sharp writer who is able
to pluck minute details out of a big picture, providing information
while evoking emotion. So it is that this book begins with an
atrocity so graphically described that it cannot help but fill the
reader with outrage. The specific event is fiction, of course, yet
it is well documented that occurrences of the sort described take
place on all-too-regular a frequency. In the case of THE EXILE,
Lily Durant, a young woman working selflessly as a nurse in West
Darfur of the Sudan is beaten, raped repeatedly, and murdered. She
is deliberately targeted for this unspeakable violence by her
attackers, members of a government-backed militia known as
Janjaweed, because she is the niece of the President of the United
States. The loathsome acts are recorded and distributed to the news
media. A reaction of force is expected --- nay, demanded --- but
the President surprisingly does nothing, at least not immediately.
Forces within the U.S. government are at work, though, to avenge
the atrocity in the most direct way possible.

As these events unfold, Kealey, voluntarily separated from the
CIA, is doing private security work for Blackwater. Tasked with
leading a security team in charge of protecting the President of
South Africa, Kealey demonstrates his ability to think, shoot and
fight on his feet in an extended sequence that makes a James Bond
film resemble a passage in a Jane Austen novel. In the aftermath of
this event, Kealey is approached by Jonathan Harper, his former
friend and superior at the CIA. Harper is unconvinced that
Durant’s murder was instigated by Omar al-Bashir, the
Sudanese president. Al-Bashir’s crimes are many and
well-documented, but Harper is afraid that if the United States
should retaliate directly against al-Bashir, absent corroborating
evidence, it will plunge an already unstable area of the world into
total chaos.

Harper, utilizing an argument that appeals in equal parts to
Kealey’s guilt and sense of duty and justice, convinces him
to undertake a mission to determine precisely who deliberately set
into motion the chain of events that led to Durant’s death
and to bring that person to justice. Kealey, one of those
individuals for whom the term “independent contractor”
was specifically coined, follows a complex, treacherous trail
through a series of exotic locales. But even a jaded figure such as
Kealey is surprised by what he eventually finds. His reaction,
though, is anything but surprising. In a conclusion that will
practically rock THE EXILE right out of your hands, Kealey attempts
to right wrongs and see that justice is served, in Harper’s
words, “…to the extent that it can be.”

Britton’s ever-increasing legion of fans will be
well-served by this latest installment in the Kealey canon. The
world is a complicated and treacherous place, and Britton, like few
others, captures it perfectly for the printed page.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on June 1, 2011

The Exile
by Andrew Britton

  • Publication Date: July 1, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington
  • ISBN-10: 0758242697
  • ISBN-13: 9780758242693