First Strike by Ben Coes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Dewey Andreas is human. His encounter against ISIS shows him as a human being who is afraid and is less than a bad ass. He fears the brutality seen from them and almost begs for bullet instead of being beheaded.
The plot of First Strike is a chilling possibility. The idea of terror cells being able to strike deep in the heartland of America is distinctly possible as the recent lone wolf attacks in Florida and San Bernardo has shown us. The idea that a group of fighters trained and ready to wage guerrilla war cannot be denied.
The story of First Strike tells how America created its new worst nightmare. This time by establishing and arming ISIS. Meant to be a counter balance against the radical spread of Islamic Jihad, they inadvertently back the wrong horse and in essence hand over arms to a megalomaniac who is inspired by the American struggle for freedom and choose to carve out his own swatch of country from Iraq and Syria using the same methods employed by Europeans against the Native Americans in the early 1600s when they colonized America.
The difference between that time and now is the almost instant gratification that Internet provides. In those days news took months if not years to be spread across, the awareness was not as instant as it is now due to the spread of Internet. The daily dose of barbarism that has been propagated by ISIS has in turn galvanized and horrified the world simultaneously.
First Strike also marks a significant firsts for Ben Coes and Dewey Andreas. Most of the time the main characters in a series appear indestructible. They are Superman like but not in First Strike.
In this book Andreas appears human, he hurts, he bleeds and he even loses consciousness while trying to crawl through a tunnel that is all too small for him. It makes him fallible, he does not come across as this all conquering bad ass against whom no force of nature can stand. This is a distinct departure from how Coes has written about Andreas in past. In the previous books we have always known that Dewey will prevail because he is such a bad ass, but in this one he falters, he fears for his own life and he even has a moment of weakness where he tries to take the easy way out. I loved this book for precisely that reason, it made me like Andreas even more as a character and my respect for Coes as an author increased due to this.
That said I am docking a star for Coes showing a relationship between Dewey and Daisy, for Pete's sake she's old enough to be his daughter. What is this fascination with always pairing up the lead character? So many women falling over themselves to get Dewey. I would like to see Dewey evolve but even he should have realized by now that relationships are not his cuppa.
Every strong hero needs a very strong villain to prop him up. Tristan Nazir is one such villain. The man with a clerical slightly nerdy appearance exudes menace by his deeds. He's not a Jihadi, he has a bigger endgame in mind and is playing for keeps. All the gory stuff put out by this version of ISIS is keeping Tristan Nazir's end game in mind. I thank god that we are dealing with a simpler Baghdadi in real life who is no less of threat than a diabolical Nazir for whom I am quite sure the geo politicians of this world would have no answer in the current context.
First Strike is definitely something that is worth a read to the fans of breakneck action and kickass storyline.