Blackout: A Riley Covington Thriller
BLACKOUT is the third book in the Riley Covington series, written by former Denver Broncos kicker Jason Elam and his pastor, Steve Yohn. With themes taken from the media’s lead stories, the writing team has created some timely and chilling scenarios. Beginning with MONDAY NIGHT JIHAD, in which terrorists carry out a devastating stadium bombing and continuing through BLOWN COVERAGE, in which Riley himself becomes the target because he prevented even more carnage, recurring characters and topics spark interest and correlation.
Stories about terrorism and counter-terrorism are, by their nature, usually more complex than your average mystery, which is why I generally avoid them. I don’t want my head to hurt when I sit down to relax with a book. However, every now and then, I’m willing to step outside my comfort zone and read something more complex than my favorite whodunits. While I had not read the first two books in the series, I found enough backstory in BLACKOUT to understand the situations and the relationships without much strain. Although it was a bit disconcerting at first to follow alternating chapters switch from North Korea to Colorado and from Alaska to Washington, D.C., the connections soon became apparent and were nicely tied together.
To balance out the suspense and fear factors involved in these all-too-realistic situations, the authors have created characters who are a little larger than life, people who share an easy camaraderie and genuinely like each other. It’s refreshing to read about a strong Christian man who is not a fanatic or some kind of wacko attempting to convert everyone in sight. While there are zealots presented on both sides of the terrorist drama, there are also reasonable people in each camp who are trying to understand one another’s beliefs. For example, Riley’s romantic interest is an American Muslim woman who works on the counter-terrorist elite team.
While I don’t think that an electromagnetic pulse weapon exists, the thought of everything with any kind of electronic connection coming to a stop is staggering: no electricity, no cell phones, cars rendered useless, the country paralyzed. To thwart this plot is the task of Riley and his team. Once the magnitude of the mission is realized, you won’t be able to stop reading until it is accomplished. Crackling dialogue and adrenaline-filled action bring the story to a heart-pounding conclusion.
In addition to an exciting story, BLACKOUT offers a bonus. Many thought-provoking ethical questions and honest searching for answers to the conflicts facing the world provide topics for continuing contemplation and discussion long after the book is closed.
Reviewed by Maggie Harding on January 1, 2010