COUP D’ ETAT should have been printed with indentations for finger-gripping. It is a frightening book, not in the dark fantasy sense --- no clowns under the bridge in this one, folks --- but in the real-world sense. Author Ben Coes creates a scenario, one that could happen at literally any moment, and spins it off, creating the threat of a worldwide conflagration. He puts a larger-than-life hero --- Dewey Andreas, from POWER DOWN, Coes’s debut effort --- into the mix, and sandwiches him between two groups of extremely powerful adversaries who are out for his blood. The result is nothing less than one of the best books of 2011.
"COUP D’ ETAT should have been printed with indentations for finger-gripping. It is a frightening book, not in the dark fantasy sense...but in the real-world sense."
Andreas is a former Army Ranger with an extremely effective skillset that holds him in excellent stead any time he is in a life-or-death situation. After the events of POWER DOWN, Andreas has left the United States behind, choosing to live quietly off the radar as an anonymous ranch hand in Australia. However, he is wanted by Aswan Fortuna, a powerful man whose pursuit of him is motivated by revenge and hatred. Fortuna’s son, Alexander, was killed by Andreas. Powered by an almost unlimited amount of wealth, Fortuna’s agents are coming ever closer to finding Andreas in the hope of terminating him for good.
At the same time, an incident on the border of Pakistan and India quickly brings the two hostile countries into a violent conflict, one that will involve the United States and China as well if it is not quickly stopped. But neither side is interested in bringing the hostilities to a halt, and when Pakistan unilaterally ups the ante by destroying an Indian town with a nuclear missile, the Indian government feels it has no alternative but to launch an all-out nuclear response that will obliterate its enemy. In a last-ditch effort to head off a nuclear war, President Allaire and his team meet with Indian leaders in what seems to be a futile effort to head off further escalation.
India’s actions seem to be inevitable until Jessica Tanzer, national security adviser to President Allaire --- and Andreas’s erstwhile lover --- offers an alternative solution: a coup d’etat in Pakistan that would overthrow the radical Islamic cleric who is Pakistan’s newly elected president and who hopes to use the conflict as the initial catalyst that will bring the world under the Islamic heel. The president of India agrees to hold off his counterattack against Pakistan to give the United States the opportunity to implement its plan, but he will only wait 48 hours. The unintended consequence of this from Tanzer’s perspective is that the CIA chief charged with implementing the coup believes that the only man capable of leading the team who would have a prayer of accomplishing such a task is Dewey Andreas. Even if Andreas could be persuaded to participate in the mission, though, Fortuna’s men are drawing ever closer to him.
An aside here: one of the searchers is a man named Youssef, who has a hilarious potty mouth that would make Al Swearengen from “Deadwood” blush. He is entertaining but also motivated, driven and dangerous. Actually, that statement applies to just about everyone here, particularly Andreas. Can he be located, rescued (as if he needs rescuing), persuaded, engaged in the mission, and successfully carry it off, all within a rapidly dwindling 48 hours? Ironically enough, even if Andreas can accomplish all of this, he will be delivered into the proximity of Fortuna, who would like nothing more than to exact a slow and bloody revenge upon him personally.
In the short space of two books, Coes has demonstrated conclusively that he is a killshot master at delivering a fast-paced book with a complex but coherent plot that sparks and sizzles from first word to last. Equally balanced as an espionage and military thriller, COUP D’ ETAT presents a chilling scenario that makes the promise of an Indian–Pakistani conflict a dead certainty. When such an occurrence takes place, it is an odds-on bet that it will happen precisely as Coes presents it here.
Andreas is strong enough as a character so as not to be eclipsed by something so mundane as a war that could result in a nuclear holocaust, though the issue of his survival to the climax of the book is something that I will leave you the pleasure of discovering for yourself. Coes combines short chapters with dramatic scene shifting and enough action for three books. Best of all, a couple of plots keep the clocks ticking at light speed. The result is a novel that will have you reading, thinking and worrying.