CIA Agent John Wells has had a rough time - those who have read Berensonís other books about Wells, including The Faithful Spy, can attest to that. However, The Silent Man is easily a stand-alone novel to be read and thrilled to on its own.
John Wells is trying to get over the past few traumatic years and make a normal life for himself, as if thatís possible. He is engaged to Jennifer Exley, a co-worker who heíd like to make a life with. However, John Wells knows deep down that itís only a matter of time before his life will be off on another dangerous track - then what will become of Jennifer and their ďnormalĒ life? He has made many enemies in his past, the kind of enemies who donít forget and will seek revenge.
Right at the beginning of The Silent Man, an old enemy from a previous encounter tries to get back at Wells and the action begins. Note to the faint of heart: that action, once started, doesnít let up until the last page of the book.
Wells and Jennifer Exley are driving when they see a traffic jam involving the two bridges into Washington, D.C. John starts getting a strange feeling, like heís had before, that something isnít right. A motorcycle storms up between cars heading straight for them and the world goes crazy with grenades and explosions. By the end of the day, several people are dead and injured - and one of the injured is Jennifer. When the dust settles, Wells takes on the mission to find who was behind this deadly assault. He knows he is going to find the people who did this to Jennifer and the others. The CIA tries to convince him otherwise, but he is intent on finishing what they started. He killed the attackers; now heís after the masterminds.
The culprits are traced to Russia and retired General Ivan Markov. The plot tightens to focus on some missing nuclear warheads. In Russia, Wells meets up with several of Markovís people and kills them. Meanwhile, the mastermind of the Washington attack in which Jennifer was injured, Pierre Kowalski, decides that John Wells is too much of a threat and calls for a meeting with him. He tells Wells that he will give him information on some missing nuclear warheads and missing highly enriched uranium from Russia if John will guarantee his safety. After investigating Kowalskiís information, John and the CIA race to find the uranium before it falls into the wrong hands for the wrong use.
A devious plot making use of these warheads and uranium continues as extremist Muslims have procured the missiles and snuck them into the U.S. They are building a nuclear bomb to attack highly ranked leaders and do away with the existing world powers. This all seems highly improbable on the surface, but when we look at the unbelievable acts of terrorism none of us could ever have imagined occurring daily in the world today, it seems that anything is possible.
With an authenticity to match todayís headlines, this far-fetched idea grows just slightly plausible if things keep going on as they have. Building suspense and a believable storyline, Berenson keeps the reader involved in this action spy-thriller novel.
Some say that Berensonís first novel, The Faithful Spy, is better than The Silent Man; Iíd better read that one as well, for The Silent Man is a smart, quick-moving novel with believable characters who move beyond the superficial sometimes found in adventure-thrillers of this type.