TO THE DEATH by Patrick Robinson

Several years ago, George W. Bush said, speaking of the war on terror, that "You're either with us or against us." This black-and-white philosophy pretty well defines To the Death, a Patrick Robinson thriller that has as much gung-ho American patriotism as any episode of 24.

Set in 2012, this novel opens with two thwarted terrorist attacks: a bomb in Boston International Airport and a hijacked plane. After interrogation in Guantamano, the captured terrorist reveals the location of the main nemesis of To the Death: General Ravi Rashood, the Commander-in-Chief of Hamas and a former British military man. After a failed attempt to kill Rashood by the Israelis, Rashood and his femme fatale wife Shakira are given a mission: to assassinate Admiral Arnold Morgan, the controversial Presidential advisor and main enemy of terrorists.

Meanwhile, Lt. Commander Jimmy Ramshawe, the Assistant Director of the NSA, has begun piecing together the various seemingly random events that indicate what Ravi and Shakira are up to. The bulk of the novel are the parallel workings, as Ravi and Shakira work to place themselves in a position to kill Morgan while Ramshawe tries to figure out their plan and protect Morgan.

As a thriller, To the Death is decent. There's quite a large number of people -- the first three pages are a cast of characters -- but since the focus is on action and the procedures of covert missions and interdepartmental cooperation, character is mostly secondary. The twin operations are contrasted nicely, and there is some good suspense.

What really put me off To the Death was how absolutely wonderful the good guys are and how absolutely evil the bad guys are. All the good guys get along perfectly, have no flaws (except, gosh, that they love America just too darm much), and are perfectly willing to ignore any pesky laws that interfere with their plans. By absolute contrast, every single Arab or Muslim is either a terrorist or providing support to terrorists. (Robinson also has some of his heroes toss around the slur "towelheads" quite often.) The wicked press is only interested in selling stories, making up stuff and endangering America in the process. Any politicians who don't automatically support this our-way-bar-none approach to national security are motivated by selfish ambition. "With us or against us" indeed!

The best thrillers give us characters we care about, and plots that make us think, as well as action and tension. To the Death, alas, is too mired in shallow stereotypes (both of the good and bad guys) that distract from what could have been a decent thriller.

Overall grade: C-

Reviewed by James Lynch

1 comment:

Ajay Shroff said...

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