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The Wolves: A John Wells Novel


The Wolves: A John Wells Novel

It is difficult to believe that THE WOLVES is the 10th book in the John Wells series, the premise of which has evolved over time. Wells, a CIA agent embedded with radical Islamists and who himself is a convert to Islam, subsequently leaves the agency but is drawn back into its orbit for off-the-book operations --- sometimes at the request of his nominal handler, other times for what would have been called, decades ago and in another context, a frolic of his own. THE WOLVES concerns the latter, with Wells taking matters into his own hands to finish a bit of business left undone from the events of 2015’s TWELVE DAYS.

Author Alex Berenson is masterful in many ways, but one of my personal favorites is how you can pick up a Wells novel without knowing what has gone before and jump right on board. Berenson gives you just enough to fill in the blanks, and does it without pausing to deliver what we might call a “what has gone before” exposition in the middle of the narrative. Bravo! This is especially important to those of us of a seasoned age who balance several series of annual installments and, uh, lose the thread, if you will, of what happened the previous year. There’s no such problem with THE WOLVES.

"THE WOLVES is driven by a terrific and well-executed plot, but where Berenson truly shines is in his explanation of how certain parts of the world work."

When we last saw Wells, he had thwarted the efforts of a casino billionaire named Aaron Duberman to draw the United States into war with Iran under false pretenses. Now, in THE WOLVES, Wells wants Duberman taken off the board. The President of the United States indicates that Duberman will be taken care of, and even initiates the first step by forcing him out of his protective cocoon in Israel, where he has been ensconced since his plot failed. After that, however, there is no action from the White House, so Wells packs up his considerable skill set and heads to Hong Kong, where Duberman and his family, having been expelled from Tel Aviv, are now living in a seemingly impenetrable mansion as he awaits the opening of his new casino, a gleaming tower on the Macao skyline that will cater only to the highest of high rollers.

Wells tries to find a way to get to Duberman without getting himself killed. Duberman knows he is being pursued and is ready for Wells. Meanwhile, another party is offering Duberman additional protection but at a price. Wells makes a gambit to once again force him out of hiding. Suddenly, though, his mission is interrupted in the most dramatic of ways, and then everything shifts again. Wells finds himself with a couple of reluctant and very unexpected allies, but even their presence won’t guarantee the success of his least in the way that he expects.

THE WOLVES is driven by a terrific and well-executed plot, but where Berenson truly shines is in his explanation of how certain parts of the world work. These would include spycraft, baccarat, casino financing, the care and feeding of gamblers, drones, and the dark tradeoffs made by governments at the highest and lowest levels. And while nominally closing the three-book story arc that began with THE COUNTERFEIT AGENT and continued in TWELVE DAYS, its conclusion sets up enough potential issues to keep things going for as long as Berenson wants them to. If what has gone before is any indication, let’s hope that he keeps going for a very long time.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on February 12, 2016

The Wolves: A John Wells Novel
by Alex Berenson

  • Publication Date: January 31, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • ISBN-10: 1101982764
  • ISBN-13: 9781101982761