Book Talk: Attacking U.S. energy resources

Recently, I read an advertisement for “The Island,” a just-released novel by Ben Coes. The brief blurb informs us that the book is about a successful attack on Manhattan Island, isolating it by knocking out its tunnels and bridges.


Until I was 16 years old, I lived in Brooklyn on the tip of Long Island and separated from Manhattan by the Brooklyn Bridge and a few subway tunnels. So, I could imagine how easy it would be to cut off the nation’s financial heart and international political nexus at the United Nations.


However, the book is the ninth in the Dewey Andreas series, and I had never read this Ben Coes series. So, I ordered and have read “Power Down” (2010, 449 pages), the first of these novels, to get an idea about the protagonist. In my estimation, Dewey fits somewhere between Rambo and Jack Reacher, a somewhat damaged hero, former Army Ranger and Delta, and now Crew Chief aboard a huge oil-drilling platform off the coast of Columbia.


Dewey’s position in the Atlantic Ocean is roughly equivalent to Jake White’s job on the Savage Island hydroelectric project, a three-thousand-foot wall that holds back the sea from the coast of Labrador. While Ben’s project, Capitana, was designed to supply between 8 and 12 percent of U.S. oil, Jake’s project was meant to generate electricity for most of the east coast.


Both projects are blown to smithereens within hours of each other. Jake is killed, along with thousands of workers, but Dewey escapes with about 100 of his crew. Still, the deaths and damage are the worst since the 9/11 attack on this country. The government, working through Jessica Tanzer of the FBI, suspects that the coordinated attacks were perpetrated by terrorists.


However, the Capitana rig was made possible by the merger of two oil companies, one owned by Ted Marks, the other by Nicholas Anson. After the Columbian and Labradoran projects are demolished, the bad guys go after Marks and Anson at Marks’ Aspen ski cabin. Marks escapes and believes that the attacks are motivated by greed rather than terrorism. His strategy is to follow the money.


Dewey is not particularly interested in either approach. His sole objective is to find and kill the people who murdered his men. But, all roads lead to a complex system of sleeper cells and dozens of U.S. targets for destruction. All have been implanted with a new plastic explosive that makes Semtex and C-4 seem like Silly Putty. And each site also has a remote-operated detonator.


Coes does a great job of keeping each subplot current and tension-filled in the mind of the reader. His knowledge of finances and the way that money travels through international channels is due to the fact that he is a managing partner at The Mustang Group, a private equity firm. And his skill at writing believable international intrigue ranks right up there with James Clavell, Robert Ludlum, and Martin Cruz Smith.


I’ve ordered “The Island” and will report on it in a future column.


Enjoy.


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Jim Glynn may be contacted at j_glynn@att.net.