Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Intercept

By Dick Wolf
William Morrow, 2013
387 pages     Fiction

It is the days leading up to the dedication of the Ground Zero memorial on Independence Day weekend in 2011. The Intercept begins with a skirmish with a potential terrorist on a plane bound to New York from Stockholm, which sets the city on edge. Six passengers on the plane are involved in the take-down of the terrorist and quickly become the media darlings we are so prone to anoint in the United States.

Jeremy Fisk is a terrorism investigator for a special unit of the NYPD. He and his lover, Krina Gersten, are assigned duty—Jeremy to follow the terrorism trail and Gersten to follow the trail of “The Six,” the passengers, now celebrities. Fisk decides that the terrorist on the plane is part of a larger plot and the chase is on all through the city until the final clash at the World Trade Center site.
It must be mentioned at this point that Dick Wolf was the creator of the TV franchise, Law and Order. In many ways, The Intercept reads like the television show. All it is missing is the clanging at the end of the chapters. The chapters are short, there is a lot of dialogue, and the villains are somewhat obvious, much like the television show. Being like the Law and Order show is a good thing. It is very fun to read a book that moves so quickly. The reviewer on Slate.com says that it has a “satisfying arc.” 

The city is the most believable aspect of The Intercept. As Fisk chases around the city, we can visualize the journey as well as the people he encounters. All the characters are interesting—even the very minor ones, like the hotel security guard and a flower-shop owner watching a take-down. Fisk is a good hero. We learn just enough about him to know that he is human, and we are confident that he will survive through several more iterations, since this is the first in a series of novels. It was especially fun to read about the characters that make up “The Six.” Each is a unique creation, and each reacts to their new-found celebrity differently. Much like a television show, their cameo appearances help keep it real.

The Washington Post reviewer affirmed my view about the terrorists. “Wolf’s terrorists are not monsters or madmen but real people whose religious beliefs make them eager to die a martyr’s death.” Since I work with so many Saudi Arabians, I was saddened to see that one of the terrorists was a Saudi; I hated to have another Saudi demonized. However, I was particularly interested in the American woman who became a Muslim and then a terrorist. I have known a couple of American women who became Muslim and I thought Wolf’s characterization was spot-on, especially because of the reasons in which the woman chose to become Muslim.

Thankfully, there is meaning beyond the action. A lot of questions emerge, particularly about the motivation of the terrorists. Wolf has done his research and put in a lot of thought about a complicated situation that we in the United States have been naive about. The Washington Post reviewer sums it up thus: “In our fiction, of course, the terrorists tend to lose, but Wolf raises disturbing questions about just how, in the real world, you win wars, at home or abroad, against people who aren’t afraid to die.”

The review in the Washington Post with a very good plot summary:  http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-01-06/entertainment/36208409_1_flight-attendant-airliner-qaeda
The review on Slate.com speaks of a love affair with Law and Order. (By the way, Law and Order is my preferred TV choice when I am quilting in my sewing room.) http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2013/01/the_intercept_by_law_order_creator_dick_wolf_reviewed.html

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