The Bottom Line: The sequel to The Counterfeit Agent that die-hard Alex Berenson fans deserve.
The ninth installment in Alex Berenson’s John Wells series is a globetrotting shell game that winds through Saudi Arabia, Russia, Washington and elsewhere. The series, which began with The Faithful Spy, is built around John Wells, an American intelligence operative. Wells was once embedded so deeply within the Taliban that he converted to Islam, and the spy series is further distinguished by the journalistic lens that Berenson brings to the material. Each book is thoroughly researched, and each of their geo-political premises fully believable.
In 12 Days, Wells is convinced that someone is trying to start a war between the U.S. and Iran. His objective is to find out who the perpetrators are, and how to stop them, before an all-out military conflict begins. It’s actually a premise that was initiated in 2014’s The Counterfeit Agent, a book that made our best thrillers of 2014 list.
Will someone from Berenson’s publisher, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, please reach out and explain why 12 Days isn’t clearly marketed as a sequel?
Unlike virtually every other Wells novel, each of which could be viewed as an entry point in the series, 12 Days can’t be recommended unless you’ve read The Counterfeit Agent first. Aside from providing very little background given on Wells or his handler Ellis Schaffer, there are numerous references made to scenes from The Counterfeit Agent that fall flat – or make very little sense – without a common frame of reference. There are even numerous references to The Midnight House, a secret CIA facility for which a previous John Wells book is named, without ample explanation for a stand-alone book.
Readers could be forgiven for wishing that 12 Days and The Counterfeit Agent were simply condensed into a single book. After all, the combined length would be about the same as a single Stephen King novel.
The good news is that if you have read The Counterfeit Agent, you’ll like – and possibly even love – 12 Days.