Sunday, November 22, 2020

Review: Shakedown by Newt Gingrich and Pete Earley

by Newt Gingrich
Release Date: March 24th 2020
2020 Broadside Books
Hardcover Edition; 368 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062860194
Genre: Fiction / Thriller
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

When a former Iranian scientist is assassinated in Washington, D.C., the former counterintelligence agent and ex-SEAL are pulled back into the world of clandestine ops—and the fate of the entire East Coast is at stake. Joining ranks with a heralded Mossad agent, Mayberry and Garrett pursue an international killer whose motives remain a mystery.
But he isn’t the only threat. They uncover another planned attack—with too many potential enemies to track down and too little time. When Iran offers to help, the already tense political situation gets more complicated. Operating outside official channels, maneuvering between enemy powers, the two know they must tread carefully to prevent an international incident and keep themselves alive. 

My Thoughts
Shakedown was actually pretty good.  I really wasn't sure what to expect, but I did enjoy a couple of his non-fiction books (mostly historical non-fiction) so I thought, Why not?  Especially when I saw he collaborated with Pete Earley, of whom I am a huge fan.  This book was entertaining, and included some current political strife, but it did have some slow moments in it where I did have to put the book down for a while and pick up something else.

First of all, while I don't have a problem with multiple POV, I do think it can be overused and take away from the tension of a book.  And I do feel this is exactly what happened in this one.  Sometimes focusing on just one character (or two or three) and following their journeys, even if it is confusing and you have no idea what is happening, builds up tension and suspense.  Flipping back and forth through EVERY POV really deflated the tension for me as there was no guesswork you knew exactly what was happening. That made is really predictable and I don't like predictable.  
The plot itself was interesting, and I definitely liked the use of modern day politicking in this book, especially between old school and new school technology.  That seems to be a common topic in suspense novels lately, whether technology is better than old school spying, and I am enjoying the debate that is going on.  Where do I sit on this one? I think there is room for both as I feel that technology can never replace gut feeling and intuition of seeing things for yourself and not through a lens.  Social interaction will always be important, in my view.  Some of the plot was a bit far-fetched for me though, which is why I gave it the rating I did, so I just went along for the ride and enjoyed it for what it is, a thriller.
I like the development of the relationship between Garrett and Mayberry, and I really liked how they supported one another.  Mayberry was nursing a possible career-ending injury and I liked how Garrett was trying to show her that her career can follow a different path from the one she was expecting and still be highly useful in her job.  I think it's important for books to show the negative effects of these jobs and the mental stress that people in these positions go through to protect us from dangers of which we are not even aware half the time.  One of my favourite scenes in this book was Garrett's interactions with the homeless man in front of his building and how he went out of his way to help him.  Such a nice touch in this book.  
Shakedown had an interesting, if not necessarily believable, plot, and I definitely liked Mayberry and Garrett as main characters.  I do wish more of the focus was on them and not the many multiple POV that kind of take away from the overall suspense of the book.  How much influence Pete Earley had on this book is hard to say, but I definitely recognize his style of writing in this book.  Maybe it's time Earley wrote more of his own thriller/suspense series too? I do recommend this book, and I will definitely pick up the next book in this series.



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