The name “Dick Wolf” should be familiar to you if you have been anywhere near a television in the last decade or so. Wolf, as is more than prominently noted on the cover of his debut novel, is the creator of the critically and commercially acclaimed “Law & Order” television series franchise. I am convinced that at any given hour of the day or night, there are thousands, if not millions, of homes where families are watching a past or present episode of one of its many permutations. Wolf brings his reputation and considerable writing chops to THE INTERCEPT, and the result is a one-sit read with plenty of twists, turns and emotional appeal.
"Even if you guess what is going to occur in THE INTERCEPT --- and aficionados of the thriller genre may well do so in the book’s early stages --- Wolf’s sharp characterizations and cinematic descriptions provide plenty of fast-moving, enjoyable and entertaining scenery to keep you occupied from first page to last."
This is the first of a projected series involving Jeremy Fisk, a detective with the NYPD’s Intelligence Division, the New York equivalent of the CIA. The initial vignette, wherein Fisk and a police sniper track down a terrorist through the streets of New York in order to thwart a dastardly attack, sets the book’s tone and mood. It also incidentally sinks deep hooks into the reader: once you start reading, there is no good place to stop until you reach the end. The meat of the book, though, concerns an attempted plane hijacking that is thwarted thanks to the actions of a member of the flight crew and a group of quick-thinking, fast-acting passengers. They become instant media sensations, known as The Six, and find that fame and its rewards and restrictions can mean different things to different people.
Fisk is concerned. Several elements of the attempted hijacking, from the hapless jihadist on down, don’t ring true to him. He is convinced that the attempted hijacking was a diversion to draw attention away from another, more spectacular attack that will use the approaching Fourth of July holiday and its festivities as a backdrop. The Intelligence Division has a suspect, a Middle Eastern individual who was also on the plane, but he has disappeared into the maw of New York. How will Fisk and his colleagues locate him? That painstaking hunt forms a great deal of, but by no means all of, the plot, as Fisk and company avail themselves of an imposing array of tools designed to keep tabs on those who would do us harm.
Lest you think that THE INTERCEPT is all high-tech gadgetry utilized in the name of police pursuit, there is plenty of characterization to be had here. The Six are quite an interesting and diverse group, and Wolf creates a few intriguing scenarios that are carried out over the course of a few days as The Six are kept in a state that is something more than house arrest (in the Grand Hyatt, no less) and something less than incarceration. Meanwhile, Fisk has a relationship on the down low with Krina Gersten, a fourth-generation NYPD cop who is partnered with him on and off the job. Gersten, along with two other officers, is tasked with guarding The Six, a job that she sees as glorified babysitting but that will become far more by story’s end.
Even if you guess what is going to occur in THE INTERCEPT --- and aficionados of the thriller genre may well do so in the book’s early stages --- Wolf’s sharp characterizations and cinematic descriptions provide plenty of fast-moving, enjoyable and entertaining scenery to keep you occupied from first page to last. More installments are promised, and they cannot arrive quickly enough.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 4, 2013