Monday, November 17, 2008

Review: Red Sea by E.A. Benedek

. . . Gabi was all to familiar with the nearness of death.

The worst of it, which came much later, was that the survivors would never find any sense in the deaths. Understanding brought no relief. There was nothing to understand. The terrorists didn’t know their victims, didn’t care about their particularities. To their killers, the dead weren’t people, only statistics, body counts. Those who loved them didn’t matter at all. The survivors were then left with an unbearable choice: to live choked with rage and hatred, to fight their way back to life through some form of forgiveness, bitter as it might be.

“When will it end?” She muttered . . . [pg 7]

Red Sea by E.A. Benedek
St Martin’s Paperbacks, 2007
Crime Fiction (S/T); 405 pgs

Although much focus has shifted to the state of the economy, terrorism against and in the United States remains a real threat. Efforts were made after the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 to improve the country’s security from future attacks. However, much evidence exists to suggest that the measures taken have not been nearly enough. Author E.A. Benedek makes that quite clear in the thrilling spy novel, Red Sea, in which a terrorist group seeks to exploit those very weaknesses and make an example out of the United States.

The novel opens with the disappearance of three airliners, each carrying people from all over the world. E.A. Benedek wastes no time painting human faces on the victims in those exploding planes, making their deaths even more powerful. Fear grips the world, and governments go into high alert as news of the crashes spread.

Retired Israeli security officer Julian Granot is enjoying his vacation on the Turquoise Coast with his family when the call comes informing him of the attacks. His expertise is needed back home. Although Israel had not been directly targeted, the Israelis make a habit of collecting intelligence and investigating terrorist threats and acts that may eventually prove to be a threat against their own interests.

As Julian begins his investigation, his attention is caught by a young American journalist, Marie Petersson, who works for the magazine, Aviation Monthly. He realizes instantly that she would make a good asset for gathering information. Marie will get her story while Julian will have access to whatever information Marie is able to uncover. Marie is not only intelligent, but she is also insightful. The Israeli plays on her ambition to draw her in. Marie is both eager and willing, although not without fear. She realizes the risks. I worried how the author would introduce a journalist in the mix, however, I shouldn’t have been. E.A. Benedek creates a scenario that is easy to buy into. Marie’s personal history as well as Julian’s make their teaming up together seem like a perfect pairing, both professionally and personally.

While the first assignment is simple, a visit to a London electronics repair shop, the second is much more risky. After a fourth plane explodes, this one over land, Marie is to travel to Baghdad where she is to interview the terrorist suspected of being behind the exploding planes. Mansour Obaidi has taken on different identities throughout his life. Julian, however, could never forget the pain Mansour Obaidi caused him many years ago. He would know the terrorist anywhere. Even so, Julian remains focused on his task and in protecting Marie.

In walks Morgan Ensley, FBI agent, positioned in Baghdad on his own secret mission. He is a bit of a cowboy who likes to go his own way. He and Marie hit it off instantly and join forces in gathering information, albeit each for their own purposes. Morgan, Marie and Julian become integral parts in the events that unfold leading up to the final climax in an attempt to save thousands of people from one of the worst possible terrorist acts imaginable.

It is frightening how easy it is to breach security in the United States. While Red Sea is a work of fiction, the possibility of future terrorist attacks on U.S. soil is very real. Airport and seaport security continue to have major holes, and unfortunately the wrong people know that as well. There is also a sense that the American government bureaucracy can cause more problems than it helps, especially with all the agency infighting, which I have no doubt exists. The novel points to a gap in knowledge and intelligence by the American people of what we are up against and the lack of willingness to cooperate with others in order to become more educated and better prepared. Another area which should cause concern.

Red Sea is suspenseful and thrilling. I was immediately drawn into the story and attached to the characters, Julian Granot in particular. There’s just something about a fictional Israeli spy that I cannot resist. I blame Daniel Silva for that and E.A. Benedek only proved my point further. I was also quite taken with Marie Petersson. She is a strong female protagonist who is searching for her place in the world. Morgan Ensley was in interesting character, although I never quite felt like I knew him as well as I came to know his fellow protagonists. Marie, Morgan and Julian value loyalty and are willing to fight for what they believe is a right and just cause. These characters are people I would most definitely want on my side.

While the novel is political in some respects, those politics are not overwhelming, never overshadowing the story or the characters. It is a fast paced adventure that thriller readers won't want to miss. Fortunately for me, it looks like the author is working on another book featuring Marie, Morgan and Julian. I can't wait!

Rating: * (Very Good)

Check out the author's website for more information about E.A. Benedek and her books.

Many thanks to E.A. Benedek and TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour.

E.A. Benedek's TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Tuesday, October 21st: Jenn’s Bookshelf
Wednesday, October 22nd: Rough Edges
Monday, October 27th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Wednesday, October 29th: Michele - Only One ‘L’(author interview) and review
Monday, November 3rd: Right Truth
Wednesday, November 5th: Dark Party Review
Monday, November 10th: The Sleepy Reader
Wednesday, November 12th: The Tome Traveler
Thursday, November 13th: Should Be Reading


  1. I was very pleasantly surprised when I saw that the author of this book is a woman.

  2. Very nice review Wendy. I really liked Julian too.

  3. Oh, Wendy. You just had to review a book that I'm going to have to read. Have you no compassion for my current TBR books? Shoved aside once again.

    The quote you opened with convinced me at the start.

  4. This sounds really good. Great review and I'm definitely going to check this one out. Thanks!

  5. Kathy - You know, I was too. I actually hadn't known that until after I finished reading the book.

    Amy - Thank you!

    Jenclair - Thank you, Jen! I'll work on the meme's for later this week. :-)

    Carrie K - LOL While I do empathize with you on your growing TBR collection, there's another part of me that is glad I could oblige. :-)

    Samantha - Thank you! I really enjoyed this one.

  6. Great review, Wendy! It isn't exactly my cup of tea (or, coffee) though...

  7. I've heard good things about this one. She supposedly based alot of her book on information she collected as a journalist concerning the fears officials have. Very scary... something that would definitely keep me up at night worrying!

  8. This sounds like non-stop action! I'm definitely going to put it on my radar for when I need something a bit more thrilling. Great review Wendy!

  9. Alice - It's definitely not for everyone. :-)

    Jen - I had read that about the author--it's quite intriguing! It is even more frightening when you think how real the fears may be, isn't it?

    Iliana - I really liked it. :-)


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