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They whispered amongst themselves. For an announcement of lesser magnitude, they said, it might have been a more suitable venue.
It was natural for them to complain. Nothing less was expected by those who had organized the event; indeed, the interns who had arranged for the seating and distributed the press passes would have been stunned by anything approaching a compliment. When the frequent interruptions led to a substantial delay in the proceedings, few were surprised. Nevertheless, every effort was made to accommodate them. Additional chairs were brought in for the latecomers, and the proffered urns of coffee and pitchers of chilled water were refilled at a near constant rate. Ornate chandeliers hung high above their heads, providing the requisite amount of light. The cameramen complained anyway, but to no avail. That the room might have been graced by natural light was never a consideration. The six massive windows were wired shut for security purposes, and draped in flowing burgundy curtains that perfectly matched the color of the carpet. Above the sparkling crystal chandeliers, a forgotten pair of star- shaped balloons drifted absently across the gilded ceiling. Although the walls were missing the usual procession of paintings, they were replaced, and perhaps surpassed, by towering marble pillars in the Corinthian order.
For the most part, they agreed that the usual trappingsof power were in evidence. What the room was clearly lacking, though, was space. They were wedged tightly against one another, and the shared discomfort was noticed by all. As the hearing progressed, however, the vocal complaints began to subside. Soon they were scribbling furiously and shooting pointed glares at those who continued to talk. Finally, the hushed whispers faded away completely, and they listened with rapt attention to the man who was currently holding court, standing before a backdrop of his seated peers.
"Today I believe we have reached a consensus among some of the most respected and influential people in Washington, including those whose input is vital to the president's decision-making process. I am fully confident that he will react favorably to many of the conclusions the committee has reached this afternoon. I'll take one more question ... I see you fidgeting over there, Susan. Let's have it."
A small peel of laughter rippled through the assembled crowd of print and television reporters as the CNN correspondent blushed slightly and posed her question to the man behind the podium. "Senator Levy, what do you hope to achieve by delivering this ultimatum to the interim Iranian government, and do you see this administration going down the same path that led to a controversial outcome in Iraq?"
The senator frowned at that last addition, a fact not lost on anyone present. "First of all, our goal here is to make clear to those in power in Tehran that the United States will not sit idly by while preparations are being put in place to cause direct harm to the people of this nation. We have not-and I'd like to be very clear on this point-yet considered the possibility of armed conflict, or even the staging of troops in the region, for that matter."
Levy paused for a moment, ostensibly to give the impression that he was gathering his thoughts. In reality, it was just for effect. "At this point, we have concrete evidence that Iran has restarted the process of refining uranium for use in nuclear weapons, proof that was lacking when the decision was made to remove Saddam Hussein from power. As it stands, the president has refused to recognize the new leadership in Tehran, and I-we-support him fully in this decision. Additionally, we now have tentative commitments from President Chirac of France and Prime Minister Berlusconi of Italy. Both leaders have assured us that, if some agreement for partial compensation can be reached, all companies in their respective countries with oil interests in Iran are prepared to terminate their contracts and pull out of the region at the earliest available opportunity. Although these implementations are predicated on talks that are scheduled to take place in late November, this is a huge step toward reinforcing the sanctions that are already in place. Let me assure you that our efforts to form a united front against Iran's nuclear ambitions will not be deterred."
Levy paused again, the momentary lull inviting a wave of clamorous voices. Ignoring them, he focused his gaze on the attractive young correspondent in the third row. "In response to the second part of your question, Susan, I'd like to stress that we're looking for strong U.N. participation in this matter. The proof of weapons production that I referred to is currently in the hands of the Security Council, and once the examination of that evidence is finished early next month, we expect that there will be a strong resolution and condemnation of the actions that have been undertaken by the new regime. No, I'm sorry, that's all," he said as another storm of voices erupted in his direction. "Thank you for being here today."
Senator Daniel Levy stepped down from the dais amidst a flurry of questions that he had no intention of answering. A four and a half hour hearing was bad enough, but the raised voices of twenty-six fellow senators and the incessant blinding light of camera bulbs had left him with a throbbing head and a dull pain in his stomach. Levy was sure that his recently diagnosed ulcer was a direct result of the trouble brewing once more in the Middle East. The recent death of Ayatollah Khomeini, the supreme leader of Iran, had resulted in the appointment of an ultraconservative cleric on decidedly unfriendly terms with the United States. Despite his comments of a few moments ago, he was fully aware that the possibility of war in the region was once again looming on the horizon.
He left the Caucus Room and took a sharp right, moving at a brisk stride down two short flights of marble stairs. As he walked, he was joined by his chief advisor, Kevin Aidan.
"So, we're about to start this nonsense all over again," Levy said. He ran a hand through his thick silver hair and spoke under his breath, ever distrustful of his small but highly efficient Secret Service detail. Members of Congress were not usually entitled to this level of protection, but as the Senate Majority Leader and the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, special attention was paid to his security, especially in the wake of recent events. "We spent billions in Iraq so our citizens could be treated to images of their sons and daughters dying on network television. What the hell did we get in return, Kevin?"
Aidan glanced at the senator out of the corner of his eye. He had to look down slightly, as Levy was at least a full head shorter than he was. He idly wondered if the senator harbored any lingering insecurities over his stature. On the other hand, one of the most powerful men in Washington need not concern himself with such trivialities. After all, Aidan reminded himself, That's what I'm here for.
"Sir, the best bet right now is to stick to the party line. Maybe you can try to distance yourself from this later, but you're currently seen as Brenneman's biggest supporter. We're already running polls-if public support starts to swing the other way, we'll see about revising our stance."
Levy raised an eyebrow, somewhat amused at this statement. Although he highly valued his advisor's input, the senator always considered Aidan's youth and inexperience when weighing his opinion. Having just appeared on national television throwing the full weight of his office behind the president, he could hardly reverse himself at any point in the near future without looking like a traitor to his party. Besides, he strongly believed that he was doing the right thing, and while he didn't mind complaining in private, he knew that he would endure as much political fallout as was necessary to prevent Iran from taking its place on the nuclear stage.
These thoughts faded from his mind as they passed through the elaborate marble rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building. Levy never ceased to be amazed by the beauty of the architecture and the exquisite craftsmanship that was obviously put into the structure; it continually reminded him of the importance of his job and how fortunate he was to be in his position. He was snapped from his reverie by the sound of a Secret Service agent speaking quietly into his sleeve. The man looked up at Levy.
"Sir, they're ready to go. We'll be moving in the second vehicle." The senator nodded slightly in response and moved through the entrance to the building. The weather outside was customary for Washington, D.C., in mid-October; blustery winds forced a light rain to fall at a sharp angle, threatening to tear away the umbrella that Aidan held over his employer's head. The agents escorted the senator quickly to the second of two white Suburbans.
Levy knew that the first vehicle contained four men armed with automatic weapons, and that the head of the detail would ride in the passenger seat of the second. He vaguely recalled that there would also be a chase car following at a discrete distance. When he glanced down the street to his left, however, he could see no evidence of any such vehicle.
When the detail was first assigned to him, the senator had thought that the highly visible presence of his guardians was both unnecessary and embarrassing. He had said as much to the president himself, but when the reason behind the changes was made clear to him, the senator agreed that the threat appeared to justify the additional security.
That didn't mean that he had to like it, though. Strict limits had been set on his Secret Service detail; the agents were not permitted to step foot inside his residence except in case of an emergency, and his daily commute was not to be affected in any way. The twenty-five minute drive from his office to his home across the river was one of the few quiet, uninterrupted parts of his day, and he would not have the placidity of those moments spoiled by sirens and the blared horns of angry, displaced motorists. Although the lead agent had strenuously objected to these conditions, Senator Levy was one of the most influential politicians in Washington, and they weren't really conditions, anyway; they were demands. In the end, a five-minute telephone call had settled the dispute.
The watchful agents that comprised his detail were not paid to like the senator, which was a good thing, as they didn't. They were responsible for his safety, though, so they were relieved as always that the seven-second transfer from the Russell Building to the Suburban was uneventful; it was a maxim in their business that the principal was always most at risk when entering or leaving a vehicle. In their rush, the experienced agents failed to notice the young, well-dressed man who had followed them outside. He waited for the small convoy to pull away from the curb and for the chase car to follow fifteen seconds later before descending the marble steps of the Russell Building and moving slowly down Constitution Avenue. Along the way, he lifted his own umbrella against the rain and extracted a slim cellular phone from his coat pocket.
The man who answered the call chose to ignore the tinge of arrogance that accompanied the expected message. At the same time, he couldn't help but feel a sliver of contempt for the Congressional staffer whose name he had been given two months earlier, and on whose information he was now completely reliant.
He waited patiently in the driver's seat of a rented black Chevy Tahoe on Independence Avenue, just opposite the James Forrestal Federal Building. The vehicle was legally parked, with sixty minutes remaining on the meter, and the tint in the windows was not of such a degree to cause suspicion among any unusually attentive traffic officers. The man had extensive experience in such matters, and although he recognized the inherent danger of his occupation, he was not one to leave the elements he could control to chance.
Excerpted from The American by Andrew Britton Excerpted by permission.
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Posted May 7, 2009
like the premise of this book. I listened to the CD Audio version that I picked up at a truck stop for $3. The set up was good. Good revenge factor. The big terror event was deflating and the ending was just not plausible. Trying to set up a sequel. An evil Jason Bourne series. I mean how can someone, even a super terrorist high IQ super villain type survive a 180 foot drop off a cliff into freezing sea water. I know about suspending belief but come on.
The only person in the entire US spy community to solve the problem is a retired ex special forces guy. Out of the thousands of US spies, Keeley is the only guy. Give me a break with these formulas.
While I am at it, I wish these authors would get rid of the female character who throws a fit when she realizes the protagonist is going to do his job. Throw a fit and go home so the villain can get them there. Talk about trite. Most people I know, male and female, would just tell their whiny significant other to take a hike or grow up. I mean they went from having a great night out to her ultimatum. Me or the job.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 6, 2009
Posted December 3, 2008
I Also Recommend:
The book starts off slow, building characters and laying some historical groundwork. There is a boring mission in South Africa. However the story quickly picks up suspense and action and I couldn't put it down for the last 125 pages. I am looking forward to the reading The Assassin!
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Posted May 21, 2015
As with most books that are first in a series, this one started slowly due, as much as anything, to the need to introduce then develop the characters. I found the plot to be relevant and timely. The way the writer unfolds the plot is very well done as well. There were twists and turns aplenty along the way that were highly unexpected making this a very enjoyable and nicely paced read.
Looking forward to starting the next book in the series.
I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys international espionage thrillers.
Posted April 13, 2014
Anyone hoping to read a novel similar to Vince Flynn's Mitch Rapp series will be disappointed, in my opinion. This book is absolutely filled with endless detail… unnecessary detail.
The primary character, Ryan Kealy, has very few altercations throughout the entire book. In Flynn's books, every time you turn a page it seems that Rapp is beating / shooting / torturing a terrorist.
The Rapp series is action packed… all page turners. This book took quite a while to pique my interest; too long. By the time I cared about Kealy, even a little bit, I was finished. Foe books like this
and characters like Ryan Kealey, I believe most readers would find the Mitch Rapp or Scott Harvath (Brad Thor) series to be far more interesting, action packed and believable.
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Posted July 12, 2013
I enjoyed this read very much. Characters were well developed and the story did keep my interest to the very end. Exciting to read and always happy to see the good guys win in the end.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 15, 2013
Predictable and far-fetched, but I was still hooked into finishing the book. The protagonist is described in super-hero terms, the villain is described in super-hero terms, in fact you could be reading a comic book! Nonetheless, the action is good and once the terrorist threat is actively in progress, I found myself caring whether or not the bad guy could be stopped! I would call this a guilty pleasure, but I will probably not buy the sequel.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 10, 2013
Great book took a couple of chapters to get into it but then on the edge throughout the whole book I couldn't put it down and when I had to I couldn't wait till I got a chance to get back into it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 21, 2012
I read this book, and I feel like I have just finished reading one of Vince Flynn's books. The similarities are too much. The main character, a real hero who survives bullet wounds, assualts, explosions, and attacks, while fighting the bad guys. He fights by his own rules, and in the end wins by killing the bad guys, and a terriorist attack in D.C. or else where is prevented. His operations are covert, and only a few high ranking officials know, including the president. If things don't go as planned they deny he exists or they cover up.
I don't plan to read, any time soon, this type of book with the same type of characters, plot, or story line. If you have read any one of VInce Flynn's books you will know what I mean. I read all five of his books.
Posted January 20, 2012
Posted June 15, 2011
I've never seen the movie, so that comparison won't be made.
All-in-all, a great book with a modern plot. Of course, like previous reviews state, not very realistic (but, it's also a work of FICTION - so, what else would you expect?).
Well written, with the option of putting it down if you need to; but, also enough action/intrigue if you don't want to put it down.
Posted March 30, 2009
Posted October 27, 2008
I have gone backwards with this author. I started out on The Invisible A birthday gift as I love to read, I was so impressed with the authors choice of characters and his gift for building, that I went out and purchased both The American and The Assassin. Wonderful stuff, complete, thrilling escapism which is the sole reason I read in the first place. I highly recommend anything Britton has put together.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 18, 2008
This book had me riveted to the spot. I literately could not set it aside. I am a huge Brad Thor fan and indeed it was his words that set me out to read The American as in his own words Brad said and I quote 'In his debut novel, Britton has delivered a level of storytelling excellence most writers spend a lifetime trying to achieve. The American is brilliantly well-written.' -Brad Thor, And Brad. YOU where spot on Britton is an excellent story teller. I have since purchased The Assassin and The Invisible and look forward to reading both.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 5, 2008
I was well into the book before I learned that this was the author first book I am glad I did not know this at the start as it may have put me off buying it.I am glad I bought it and read it as it will now be noted as one of the best thriller books I have ever read. and I am going to get the next one now as I have to know what happens to March. ??Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 5, 2008
In this debut novel Andrew Britton takes us on a terrifying ride through present day dangers. The average American lives in fear of terrorist attacks. And in the opening chapters of The American a US senator is attacked in DC. Who is it that walks among them in & How can they stop him? The research is a fascinating record of investigative work, which combines exhaustive checking with intuition. But the 'The American' is clever, too, particularly when he's cornered. Some of the novels finest moments come after 'The Americans' false identity is discovered and yet this isn't a novel about a killer, but about a man of uncommon intelligence and nerve.One that many many readers came to admire and like. Britton give him a background, a past, a reason to do what he does. He has made the terrorist likable. I had read this statement in reviews and was pushed to find out more. I am glad I did I finished.The American then went back out and purchased the Assassin, and The Invisible. TIP to Barnes & Noble Carry more than one copy of The American as I predict a lot of people will be reading this bookWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 16, 2008
Former Special Forces Officer Ryan Kealey is now living in Maine, lecturing occasionally at the University of Maine as an associated professor of International relations. His partner of six months is Katie Donavon, who isn't totally sure he has retired. When Ryan sees on the news a terrorist strike on Independence Avenue, Washington DC - a hit on three cars in broad daylight, killing a US Senator, an outspoken critic of Iranian hard-liners, he waits for the telephone call he knows will come. Arriving in Langley Virginia, Jonathan Harper Deputy Operation Director at Langley shows Ryan a tape on which he identifies Jason March, an American national, now clearly high up in Al-Qaeda. Ryan Kealey knows Jason March, not a man to make mistakes. So who can stop him, only one of their own, the man who trained him Former Special Forces Officer Ryan Thomas Kealey. The hunt is on. Within two weeks Washington DC is again the scene of terrorist devastation. Both Ryan and is new partner British Naomi Kharmai of Central Intelligence, Counter Terrorism, are caught in the operation. Like all good stories much of the intrigue lies in the past. Just what did Jason March do to Ryan, and where exactly is he? Written from multiple points of view with the action switching constantly from Washington to Langley to Iran, and then to South Africa, with a couple of end of chapter cliff-hangers, this is a page turner. The characterization is excellent - I chuckled at the reference to Naomi scratching her butt. Also some great sexual tension. A stunning unexpected climax. I Recommend it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 9, 2007
Just finished reading The American. Very impressed. I have tried my own hand at writing on and off for years. Then along comes this slip of a boy and shows us HOW to do it and do it right. A winner an engrossing read. looking forward to starting The Assassin which is next on my reading list.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 29, 2006
If you have a lot to do, don't start reading this book. It will keep you from getting anything done because you cannot put it down. Page after thrilling page it just gets better and more exciting. Do yourself a favor, get this book and set aside a few hours to ride this one out.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 3, 2006