“The American” by Andrew Britton
Genre: Thriller / Secret Agent
Rating: 3.5 Water Towers
Within the first few pages, the reader feels an ominous cloud hovering over the main characters in “The American”. Three hundred and ninety five action packed pages later that cloud finally explodes thunder, lightning….and tears.
“The American” is Andrew Britton’s first book and it is a very good debut, exciting, full of suspense, and the feeling of doom caused by that ominous cloud lingering in the background throughout the book. Very similar to “The Hostage”, this book does not end…it is just the first part of a much longer story. The newly released “The Assassin” picks up where “The American” left off.
“The American”, Jason March (aka: Will Vanderveen), is a terrorist working with Al-Qaeda and Iran. His first killing is a U.S. Senator who has chosen to try to reign in the bad influences in Iran. Using an M202A1 66mm launcher that was “lost” in a training session at Ft. Bragg with three M74 rockets (which contain chemicals similar to phosphorous, which will kill you eventually, if you do not die immediately), Jason efficiently blows away the Senator as well as a good number of civilians and Secret Service personnel.
Cut to the idyllic setting of Cape Elizabeth, Maine where our hero Ryan Kealey and his girlfriend Katie live a somewhat boring life (at least according to Ryan who retired a year earlier from the CIA to become a somewhat erratic teacher at a local college). Ryan is just now figuring out that Katie is the (THE) woman for him and has decided to spend the rest of his life with her.
The phone rings.
Several years ago, Ryan was the leader of an Army Special Forces team on a mission in Syria. That mission (to take out a well known terrorist) was well planned and on the verge of success when one member of the Special Forces team systematically kills all the other members of the team, except one. The killer was Jason March and the only survivor (never fully explained how he survived) was Ryan. This relationship between the two is the main reason Ryan was called back from retirement. Ryan is uniquely qualified to find Jason / Will before his next terror gig.
As Ryan uncovers clues with the help of another CIA agent, Naomi Kharmai, it becomes clear that Jason / Will hates the United States for what it did—or more accurately did NOT do—to his father and that Will has a plan (with help from Al-Qaeda and Iran) to eliminate the Presidents of the U.S., France, and Italy when they meet in Washington D.C.
“The American” rockets through the pages as Ryan, Naomi, and a supporting cast of agents race to find Will before he has a chance to kill the Presidents. From the high mountain retreats of Al-Qaeda, to the backwoods of Virginia the action and intrigue is a fast paced roller coaster. The relationship of Ryan and Katie deepens greatly with Ryan proposing marriage, then deteriorates rapidly as Katie cannot take the pain when Ryan needs to be away (with Naomi…some major jealously going on here) to track Will down.
The ending is not un-expected since that cloud has been around since the beginning of the book–but still shocking. There are loose ends that may or may not be tied up in “The Assassin”, but I will definitely find out as soon as it comes out in paperback. Overall, this is a very fine book. How the author generates the cloud and keeps it alive throughout the book is a thing of wonder.
PS: Take a look at who wrote the top review for this book…now you know why I picked this book up in the first place!