The experience of reading one of Ben Coes’s Dewey Andreas novels is both exhilarating and exhausting. It is the former as a result of Coes’s perfect pacing, from beginning to end. The noisy, action-packed passages (there are enough to fill two or three books easily) make the pages fly by. When some of the characters are “just” sitting and talking, it’s the same deal. Each and every sentence accentuates the fact that one of the several clocks that Coes winds up throughout the book are ticking very loudly and approaching countdown. This is true of his first three novels and goes double for his latest, in which Coes sets the bar high and then exceeds it.
"You will want to take a stress test before reading EYE FOR AN EYE. There are any number of suspenseful scenes between the covers, including one that may have you thinking twice before getting on a freeway again."
EYE FOR AN EYE begins with Dewey extracting information from the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations concerning the identity of a Chinese “mole” in the Israeli Mossad. Dewey gets the information, and the mole is terminated. A plot is hatched, though, between United States and British intelligence to use the assassination as a method to draw out Fao Bhang, the notoriously reclusive and extremely dangerous Chinese Minister of State Security. It does just that, but not in the manner in which it was intended. Bhang blames Dewey for the loss of his mole, and decides to take revenge by initiating an operation to take Dewey off the board. The action is carried out but fails, resulting in a disaster that is costly to Bhang politically and devastating to Dewey personally.
Dewey, who has already borne more than his fair share of personal tragedy, goes rogue, deciding that he will even the score by going after Bhang in a mission that is all but suicidal. He has reached the point where he doesn’t care what it takes to get the job done, and nothing will get in his way. In an effort to keep an already dangerous situation from getting totally out of control, Bhang tries to use some unusual leverage. When the U.S. attempts to sell more treasury bonds to China, the Secretary of the Treasury is informed by the governor of the People’s Bank of China that no further purchases will be forthcoming. Unless. The bait that is ultimately dangled in front of the U.S. is the extradition of Dewey to China as a condition to further Chinese purchases of the U.S. bonds. Even if the U.S. were to agree to such a condition, however, Dewey would have to be apprehended.
Meanwhile, plans are afoot to unofficially aid Dewey in his quest and are being hatched by a couple of the usual suspects and one that is somewhat unexpected. A wild scenario that seems to be doomed to fail almost from the start is set into motion with Dewey’s future --- and those of others --- on the line.
You will want to take a stress test before reading EYE FOR AN EYE. There are any number of suspenseful scenes between the covers, including one that may have you thinking twice before getting on a freeway again. And then there is the ending. I read the last two paragraphs several times just to see what I was missing. Fans of the series from the beginning and those jumping on the Dewey Andreas wagon for the first time will be stunned. What’s next? Whatever it is, it’s going to be great, just like EYE FOR AN EYE.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on July 12, 2013