It's hard to figure out just what North has in mind here: a little payback, perhaps, for some of the controversial ex-Marine's treatment by the Beltway establishment? A Christian tract disguised as a topical thriller? An attempt to use every single governmental abbreviation—from AmCits (American citizens) to WHDB (White House Data Base)—in one book? This giant novel (the first in a projected series of three) fits every one of those criteria, and also has a plot so convoluted that a snake might get motion sickness and characters so thin they make Tom Clancy look like Jane Austen. After flashbacks to three sets of killings in 1986, the narrative skips to 1994, when a career Marine Corps officer, Maj. Peter Newman, arrives at the Clinton White House to head a special projects office that hasn't been manned since another Marine—Oliver North—was booted out in 1987. "Look, if you think I'm going to accept a job only to go down in flames like he did, you'd better think again. I'll resign my commission first," Newman growls. But the major, who lost a younger brother in the military disaster at Mogadishu recounted in Black Hawk Down, takes the job when he realizes it will let him go after the warlords (including a rich Saudi called Osama bin Laden) responsible for that debacle. In a preface dated December 14, 2001, Fox News reporter North writes from aboard a U.S. warship with troops bound for Afghanistan, thanking coauthor Musser for his "gift for words" that "has made my military phraseology comprehensible to civilians." Perhaps those thanks were premature. (Sept. 1)
Forecast: Mission Compromised indeed—Ollie champions will read this, but even they may find it a slog. Author tour.