Boy oh boy, I’m fired up. I’ve never read any W.E.B. Griffin, but the guy can spin a yarn. It fires me up because it’s a new discovery for me in the genre of military fiction, which is something I’ve gotten away from the past few years. I read the first five or six Tom Clancy novels as soon as they came out, but I just tired of them. I think it was because I felt the characters were kind of hollow and there were too many military and intelligence technicalities.
Not so with Griffin. He has created a pretty deep and complicated character in Charley Castillo. This is the first one of what is called the Presidential Agent Novels. Castillo is a decorated army officer working for the director of Homeland Security and the President asks him personally to follow up on the disappearance of a plane from an airport in Angola. This sets off a huge, inter-agency, global search for this plane. Terrorists, shady Russian arms dealers, the FBI, the Philadelphia police, the CIA, the NSA, Delta Force, and Castillo’s ultra-cool half-brother are involved. It’s an excellent story.
Besides the story, I love Griffin’s methods. First of all, there’s a ton, I mean a ton, of dialogue. The story rages along with conversations on cell phones, radios, and fact-to-face. He often will only let you hear one side of the phone conversation because it’s usually interrupting another conversation happening at the same time.
Second, there is a lot of first-person thinking going on. The reader knows it’s one of the characters thinking because he just italicizes it. It’s often a conversation within a conversation but very easy to follow. I really liked the technique a lot.
And finally, he just peppers this thing with interesting, humorous, and often touching military stories. They are not necessarily part of the plot line, but added to expand on a certain issue. I have to believe they are based on the truth. For instance, he tells the story of an ex-military guy that becomes a millionaire after starting a hi-tech communications company and eventually donates some serious communications equipment to Delta Force because he feels duty bound to do so. It was really a cool short story that I did not see coming.
I can’t wait to read the other books in this series. In fact, I may grab another Clancy or Ludlum along the way. I am not sure why I have forsaken the spy/international intrigue/military intelligence novel. But I think they’re back in.