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The Night Ranger (A John Wells Novel) by…

The Night Ranger (A John Wells Novel) (original 2013; edition 2013)

by Alex Berenson

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2492646,085 (3.88)5
Title:The Night Ranger (A John Wells Novel)
Authors:Alex Berenson
Info:Putnam Adult (2013), Hardcover, 400 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:fiction, thriller, espionage, terrorism

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The Night Ranger by Alex Berenson (2013)



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Good book, absolutely recommend reading it ( )
  petrichor8 | Jun 6, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
John Wells has long been a favorite of mine. "The Night Ranger" is an interesting, fun read but not the best in the John Wells' series. This story takes place in Africa with Wells tracking down four, kidnapped college aid volunteers. Small potatoes compared to some of John's previous adventures but still and interesting and new venue for our super spy. As other reviewers have mentioned, the author is meticulous with his research and the many of the scenes in the book could have just as easily been seen on the six o'clock news. If you are a John Wells fan then this book should be a fun read, if you have not read any John Wells' novels then I suggest you start with the first novel, "The Faithful Spy." ( )
  realfish | Nov 28, 2015 |
This book was an interesting read. On one hand, it was an exciting, action packed thriller that was hard to put down. On the other hand, the author wrote in some loose ends and his portrayal of women in general leaves something to be desired, much to my surprise.

In previous books, former CIA agent John Wells saved the country and maybe the world from biological weapons, nuclear war, etc. Big stuff. So this one is on a smaller scale. He gets a call from his estranged son, Evan, who pleads with him to go to Kenya and Somalia to track down four college age aid volunteers who have been kidnapped. Doesn't sound like much, does it? But it is. He discovers a conspiracy on the part of the leader of this aid group to kidnap his own nephew and three others, hold them for awhile, and release them with the release of his new book, making him a best selling hero. But things don't work out that nicely. First, the young people are all very unlikeable. Scott is a frat boy dick who gets away with anything. Owen wants Gwen, a vapid, beautiful blond sorority girl. And the other girl just seems to be along for the ride. So a Somali warlord finds them, kills the fake kidnappers, kills Scott when the kid mouths off to him, and takes the remaining three to his camp in Somalia to hold them for ransom. Wells figures this out. Problem. Corrupt Kenyan police arrest him for nothing at all, so he has to escape and now he's being hunted by them. He's trying to use his old CIA contacts for help locating the camp, which works out, and he goes there, one against 60 or 70 armed militia men. Seems a little unbelievable, but Berenson is such a great writer, he can have you believing just about any scenario he writes. And so he saves the day. As you knew he would. It's more exciting than that, but I don't want to give the plot away.

My problems are these: Wells went to Africa as a favor to his son, yet we never hear anything that results from this action. Do the two draw closer? Does his son forgive him for "deserting" he and his mom when he was little? We never find out. Additionally, John's girlfriend Ann just seems to be a minor plot device that is literally useless. We never get to know her, so we really don't give a crap when Wells is kissed by an African woman who's after him (or so it seems). Screw Ann! I couldn't care anything at all for her because the author hasn't given her a remotely significant role to play in these books. Also, the women all seem to be pretty stupid in this book, led by the two college girls. Absolute airheads. If I were a feminist, I think I would be pretty ticked about this representation of women in the book. Moreover, there's the Evan problem. He turns from this total nerd in love with Gwen into this vicious monster, willing to kill just about anyone and anything and it seems completely out of character for him. I had a hard time believing it.

So how do I rate this book? Considering all of the problems, it probably deserves three stars. But considering the action and how exciting this book is, it probably rates five stars. So I'm giving it four and going with that. If you like the John Wells character, you'll probably like this book. Recommended. ( )
  scottcholstad | Dec 5, 2014 |
International Aid
‘The Night Ranger,’ by Alex Berenson
Published: March 15, 2013

This is the seventh outing for Alex Berenson’s central character, John Wells, and the mileage is starting to show. Although “The Night Ranger” is skillfully engineered, its action hero feels distinctly weary.

Berenson’s opening scenes could come straight from the evening news. Four young Americans working at a giant refugee camp for Somalis in Dadaab, Kenya, decide to head to Lamu, an island off the coast, for a short holiday. They never arrive: kidnapped by bandits, they’re taken to Somalia. Their best hope for rescue will be John Wells, the only American spy to infiltrate the high reaches of Al Qaeda.

Berenson, a former New York Times reporter, won the 2007 Edgar Award for best first novel by an American author for “The Faithful Spy,” his first book featuring Wells. In subsequent volumes, Wells grew into a complex and satisfying protagonist, tackling bad guys across the world’s conflict zones. “The Shadow Patrol,” Wells’s previous appearance, sent him to Afghanistan after a suicide bomber blew up several senior C.I.A. officials, a plot inspired by an attack that actually happened in December 2009.

Berenson’s strength is his deep understanding of geopolitics and of the shoddy compromises it demands. Here he deftly portrays the contradictions of the international aid industry, which is just as prone to waste, corruption and egotistic ­empire-building as its profit-oriented rivals. The self-aggrandizing director of WorldCares/ChildrenFirst, the novel’s fictional aid agency, is especially well drawn. The details of the C.I.A.’s operations and its bureaucratic infighting are also convincing, as is Wells’s planning and execution of his mission. Berenson clearly has excellent contacts in the world of shadows.

But the human factor is far less successful, at least where Wells is concerned. The hero of a good thriller should have a personal stake in the mission’s success, but Wells’s heart never seems to be in this one. Like his attachment to Islam, the faith he has adopted, his connection to the mission — a request by his estranged son, Evan, who is friendly with the sister of one of the captives — feels cursory.

Gwen Murphy, the kidnapped American in question, is sexy, blond and not especially smart, enjoying casual hookups with a buff, confident colleague. In Somalia, Gwen soon becomes addicted to miraa, the local stimulant of choice, and forms a perhaps equally strong bond with Wizard, the warlord holding her and her friends hostage. Surprisingly, it is Wizard, rather than Wells, who becomes the book’s most interesting character. Perhaps because he struggles with a Somali warlord’s version of the worries familiar to any chief executive: how to keep the loyalty of his personnel; how to gain the maximum financial advantage from his situation without compromising his principles; how to keep control of his territory.

Annoyingly, the most significant plot twist is revealed less than halfway through. And the climax comes with a queasy gore-fest as Wells slashes a Somali’s neck so the “bright red arterial blood pumped out,” then severs another man’s spinal cord “in one vicious stroke.” Like a holdover from the age of Kipling, he dispatches inconvenient natives with swift and manly blows. Yet John Wells is also very much a man for his own time, for the age of “collateral ­damage.” ( )
  meadcl | Sep 7, 2014 |
The lead character in this book, John Wells, is on my list of fave guys, along with Jack Reacher, John Corey and several others. Once again, an action-filled adventure with Wells getting into situations that you may find inescapable. Does he successfully complete this latest assignment? Give it a read to find out. If you like down and dirty action, you'll love this one. ( )
  ewhatley | Feb 26, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 039915972X, Hardcover)

John Wells enters new territory, as he goes underground in East Africa to track four kidnapped Americans and the Somali bandits who snatched them, in the tough, thoughtful, electrifying new novel from the #1 New York Times-bestselling author.

Four friends, recent college graduates, travel to Kenya to work at a giant refugee camp for Somalis. Two men, two women, each with their own reasons for being there. But after twelve weeks, they’re ready for a break and pile into a Land Cruiser for an adventure.

They get more than they bargained for. Bandits hijack them. They wake up in a hut, hooded, bound, no food or water. Hostages. As a personal favor, John Wells is asked to try to find them, but he does so reluctantly. East Africa isn’t his usual playing field. And when he arrives, he finds that the truth behind the kidnappings is far more complex than he imagined.

The clock is ticking. The White House is edging closer to an invasion of Somalia. Wells has a unique ability to go undercover, and to make things happen, but if he can’t find the hostages soon, they’ll be dead – and the U.S. may be in a war it never should have begun.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:00 -0400)

When four friends, working at a giant refugee camp in Kenya for Somalis, are hijacked by bandits, John Wells, brought in to find them, goes undercover in a country that isn't his usual playing field where he discovers that the truth behind the kidnappings is far more complex than he imagined.… (more)

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