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Saturday, December 30, 2006

My review of Hell in a Briefcase by Phil Little with Brad Whittington

Product Description:

Matt Cooper is a true international man of mystery. A private security executive, his adrenaline-junkie days consist of last-minute first-class overseas flights, Hollywood parties with a live-in actress girlfriend, and direct calls from top CIA brass. But the jet-set lifestyle hardly matters once Matt meets Mr. Roberts, an old broken-down millionaire, an uncommon Christian who coaxes Cooper into traveling with him to Israel. Through the strange man's incredible connections, Matt goes behind the curtain of Middle East terrorism, witnessing firsthand the untold ravages of holy war.

My Review:

When I first received this book in the mail and read the title I thought, "What kind of story is this?" Honestly, the title didn't appeal to me, but the front cover was interesting and so was the description on the back. So I started to read. The first chapter had a lot of narration, which usually makes a book boring, but it seemed necessary to the setting and to get you into the mind frame of the story itself. It must've been effective because I found myself wanting to plow through this book from beginning to end. That's a good sign for me because #1, I normally don't read thrillers, and #2, I read SO many books that for it to grab me by the throat it has to be compelling. Hell in a Briefcase was compelling indeed.

Have you seen The Peacemaker (1997) starring George Clooney and Nicole Kidman? This book reminds me of that kind of action, especially with the pulse-racing countdown to find the nukes before they detonated. Continual intrigue, cliff-hanger plot points, a mysterious "mole" (as they called the insider working with the terrorists), and adventure up the wazoo made this story worthwhile reading for me. What a great ride! One of the best points, IMHO, was the fact that I didn't figure out who the proverbial bad guy/girl was until the end when the person was revealed. That was so cool! Talk about well-done red herrings. This is a perfect example of that technique.

Through much of the story I felt like I worked for Homeland Security forces alongside Matt Cooper as an insider, and as a result I know some of the secrets for fighting terrorism with counter-terrorism techniques. I love it when a book makes me feel smarter about a subject when I'm done reading it. Plus, there were excellent characterizations all around. Nikki, the daughter, was VERY well done as was Stevie, the actress. I found the spiritual arc to be very effective and frankly, if there had been no arc, it would've taken away from the story, IMHO.

In this story not everyone "finds Jesus" because that isn't the real world, but the defenses people erected against Christians were very realistically portrayed. One particular person's influence (by the change in her behavior), was dramatic enough to capture the attention of the unsaved long enough to have them wonder if what she had was truly real. That's a great illustration of living out your faith, but the character did it in baby steps, like new Christians do. Very cool! I can't wait for the next book in this series because there are some very well-done loose ends that could lead into another book (like a key bad guy being "at large"), yet I still feel satisfied at the end of this one.

Hell in a Briefcase was published by Broadman & Holman and released in May 2006.


Phoebe said...

Sounds like a great book. I'm intrigued. Very nice review!

Mirtika said...

AHA. Turning forty, huh? :)

I'll turn 47 in 2007. Egads.

Anyway, I do like thrillers, and your review made me curious about this one. (I hadn't heard of it before.)

Log me in for your drawing, chica.


David said...

Although you seemed a bit wordy in this review it does make me want to read it. As a writer of mystery/suspense/thriller novels I would love a shot at this. Especially the Middle East backdrop. And if the characters are handled the way you say they were (and I've no reason to believe they weren't) it must be one fantastic book


Jenny said...

This is a new one to me, too, Michelle so I'm taking your recommend to heart.
Abundant blessings,

PS Happy birthday to you and Elvis (and my daughter, as well, on the 8th)

Debra Ullrick said...

Your review made me want to read a story I normally wouldn't pick up either. I especially liked your comment about how it made you feel smarter about a subject when you were done reading it.

I, too, love stories where you feel like your not an outsider looking in, but instead you feel like you're actually walking right along side the characters.

As always, an awesome review, Michelle.

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