The Intercept

Dick Wolf. Morrow, $26.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-06-206483-7
Reviewed by Bruce DeSilva. A lone al-Qaeda terrorist armed with a hard-to-detect obsidian knife tries to hijack a cross-Atlantic airliner and crash it into midtown Manhattan, but five passengers and a flight attendant wrestle him to the floor and subdue him. The Six, as they quickly become known, are celebrated as new American heroes. Lionized by the media, they are promptly folded into New York City’s Fourth of July celebration and the upcoming dedication of the new World Trade Center tower. Enter Jeremy Fisk of the NYPD’s Intelligence division. The veteran detective worries that the terrorist plot was foiled too easily—that the attempted hijacking could have been a diversion to conceal something much, much bigger. And with both President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush due in town for the dedication, the stakes couldn’t be higher. That is the premise of Dick Wolf’s debut novel, The Intercept. Wolf is best known as the creator of NBC-TV’s Law & Order, the longest-running drama in television history, but the stunning plot twists, graphic violence, and frantic pace of the novel are more reminiscent of a season of 24. Wolf spins his yarn in a voice that is clear and precise, but not particularly stylish—the kind of writing found in the best newspaper police reporting. Although the novel is billed as the first in a series featuring Jeremy Fisk, the main character is not well-drawn, coming off as a generic good-guy cop. Wolf does a better job with Fisk’s partner and secret lover, Krina Gersten, a smart and vivacious woman who resents that she is assigned to babysit the Six while Fisk is on the street hunting terrorists. Several real people including Osama bin Laden, singer-songwriter Paul Simon, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the city’s police commissioner, Ray Kelly, make cameo appearances.But the most vivid characters are the Six, each of whom reacts quite differently to the rush of celebrity. At one end of the spectrum is Colin Frank, a journalist who can’t stop scheming to snag book and movie deals. At the other is Alain Nouvian, a cellist who wishes everyone would leave him alone. Wolf’s take on the American media’s obsession with celebrity, and the way these characters cope with it and with one another, provides some of the book’s finest moments. The Intercept doesn’t quite measure up to the best of the thriller genre—to the likes of John Sanford and Joseph Finder—but Wolf, an Emmy-winning screenwriter, director, and TV producer, is off to a promising start as a novelist. (Jan.) Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Edgar and Macavity awards, is the author of Cliff Walk and Rogue Island.
Reviewed on: 10/22/2012
Release date: 12/26/2012
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