cover image Twelve Days

Twelve Days

Alex Berenson. Putnam, $27.95 (432p) ISBN 978-0-399-15974-9

After an effective opening, in which bestseller Berenson makes the victims of a terrorist attack real enough to give their deaths an emotional impact, his ninth John Wells thriller (after 2014’s The Counterfeit Agent) settles into familiar terrain. Everyone onboard a United Airlines flight from Mumbai to Newark, N.J., perishes when the plane is struck by a surface-to-air missile shortly after takeoff. Other disturbing events include the murder of a CIA station chief and, most ominously, the discovery of weapons-grade uranium in Istanbul. While the U.S. president accepts the conclusion that the nuclear material was from Iran and intended for use in an attack on America, Wells, a former CIA agent, believes otherwise. Wells is sure that Aaron Duberman, a billionaire casino owner, is responsible for the uranium and is attempting to trick the U.S. into invading Iran. The desperate efforts to avoid war make for an exciting page-turner, but the characters lack subtlety and the plot holds few surprises. Agent: Heather Schroder, ICM. (Feb.)