I specialize in reviewing Print-On-Demand (POD) published books for my website and Midwest Book Review. Please query for a review by email to hgunther234@hotmail.com.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

THE VALLEY OF DEATH by Gwynne Huntington Wales

2021 Pine Lake Rd, Lincoln, NE
Genre: Fiction/Espionage Thriller
Rating: Good
ISBN: 0595418899, $23.95, 413 pp.

Quoting from the back cover:

"In November 2002, before the invasion of Iraq, the CIA responds to a report from a highly placed British spy about an Iraqi operation to recover and sell nerve gas to terrorists, by dropping Jan Vandermeer into a remote valley in northeast Iraq to determine whether or not the report is correct. He discovers that the lake at the head of the valley is contaminated with VX nerve gas. Using Predator surveillance, the CIA watches the Iraqis recover a canister of the gas and deliver it to the initial transporters. Now the CIA must make a decision–destroy the gas before it moves out of Iraq or let it proceed to protect the source of the report as well as to try to roll up the network of terrorists engaged in moving it to its ultimate but unknown destination.

"The decision to track the gas requires a team of CIA and British agents as well as the National Security Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office. Vandermeer and his Iraqi partner, the beautiful Sophia, are assigned leading roles in the operation. An intensive two-week battle of wits follows, taking Vandermeer and Sophia on a gripping journey through the deepest recesses of the Middle East toward what they come to believe is the final target in the United States."

I must tell you that I did not read the entire novel. When I got to page 35 and the following ...

"I don’t need to tell you guys how important it is that we keep track of this thing," said the briefing officer. "If we lose it and it gets into the hands of terrorists, we could be looking at a disaster that would make 9/11 look like child’s play. The purpose of this exercise is to find out who is behind this and to put whoever it is out of action. It also shows that Iraq indeed has weapons such as this hidden away and is prepared to use them. If the trail leads to al Qaeda or some other terrorist group, it shows that Iraq not only supports terrorists but also supplies them with such weapons."...,

I felt to’ track’ rather than ‘pick up’ the VX nerve gas (a bird in the hand ...) when they could was an ignorant decision, considering the potential deadly disaster nature of the gas, and chose not to read further. I read to page 35 and the last few chapters. My decision certainly does not take away from the quality of writing which is very good. Gwynne Wales is an accomplished, knowledgeable writer, and his novel is well organized, edited and filled with interesting details. If you like espionage thrillers and don’t mind poor decisions, I’m certain your will enjoy The Valley of Death.