Scheming politicians, spies, terrorists, and clandestine power brokers converge in retired Air Force intelligence officer Skip Allen’s ambitious Requiem for the Phoenix.
It’s been two years since federal agents Matt and Annie Garret foiled an al Qaeda biological attack on America, but the terrorists don’t give up so easily. They’re about to unleash a bigger and badder attack, the most shocking since 9/11 … and the Garrets (with a few new helpers) are back on defense.
Requiem is Allen’s 2006 sequel to Out of the Ashes, his 2004 thriller about that foiled July 4 terrorist attack by al Qaeda on America’s Heartland. It describes the inner workings of the terrorist mindset and demonstrates a wave of terror that al Qaida can–if left unchecked–unleash upon the free world.
Requiem offers a number of pluses: It has a credible plot with reasonably well-developed characters and an ambitious premise that’s laudable. Much has happened in the real world since 2006—namely the killing of Osama bin Laden, the election of a Democrat as U.S. president, and the exposure of NSA surveillance that goes deeper than anyone imagined. A number of hit TV series, such as 24 and Homeland, have also influenced what we expect from our counter-terrorism storytelling. Despite the fact that the novel was written many years ago, the story still seems timely and relevant.
But the novel juggles far too many key characters in a labyrinthine plot that spans 464 pages—roughly twice the length of an ordinary commercial thriller. Character back-stories, recaps, and a few sex scenes consume a big chunk, so the story ebbs and flows across time and settings, giving readers a real workout. The book would have benefitted from a solid trim.
The novel has epic bulk and an epic cast, but the story feels more like an endless Jack Bauer-meets-Carrie Mathison marathon than taut reading experience. There’s enough action for die-hard fans of political thrillers but others might feel that it’s as interminable as the War on Terror itself.
Also available as an ebook.