Trap The Devil: A Thriller, by Ben Coes
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by St. Martin’s Press. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
Before I properly get into the review of this book, I would like to briefly discuss how it is I ended up with a signed advance reader’s copy of this most enjoyable political thriller, as it might help encourage other people who write or publish books and want to have their books as part of my reading schedule. An employee with St. Martin’s Press sent me an e-mail complementing me on the quality of my reviews and requested that I read and review this book because he thought I would enjoy it (he was right) even if it seemed out of my normal reading habits. Although I had never heard of the author before, nor of the series it is a part of, I agreed to read it and my signed copy of the novel appeared in a package on the same day that I got 3 other books from publishers, making it a rather busy day to sort out when I would be reading it. I had to wait a day to read it as two other books were higher priorities, but for a good book I will certainly make time even in my rather busy reviewing schedule, and this book was certainly worth the time.
Having begun a bit unconventionally by discussing my susceptibility to flattery and bribery, I would like to begin talking about the book itself and its context. Although my reading habits are far biased to nonfiction, I do read at least a few novels, and one of the genres of fiction I read most happily and consistently is the political thriller. Although I have not read the first six novels of the Dewey Andreas series, this novel works well enough as a standalone that I did not feel lost even if there were many references to his previous exploits and how he has built up a large amount of enemies. All of this is certainly believable, as is the existence of a neoconservative deep state committed to the destruction of Islam and the removal of any pacifist elements within the United States that would stand in the way of that holy war, up to and including the President of the United States himself. At no point did this novel lead me to renege on my commitment to suspect disbelief and at least somewhat cynically go along with the setup of aspects of our government being at odds with other parts of the government with divided loyalties and the danger of a massive coup attempt. If fictional, all of this was entirely plausible from the point of view of someone who has lived in Thailand and has at least some familiarity with the corruption within our body politic.
This novel of about five hundred pages took me somewhere around two hours to read. It was a rapid page turner full of drama and incident, with two immensely sympathetic characters at its heart, the PTSD-afflicted Dewey and a hausfrau on the run from her psychotic assassin husband who had her put in a Swiss loony bin so that she wouldn’t blow his cover. The plot itself is madcap and dramatic in a way that reminded me of Ludlum’s work. Without trying to spoil too much as far as the story is concerned, Dewey is framed for an assassination he didn’t commit, there is a dramatic series of scenes on a train where Dewey has to deal with several groups of his enemies at once that see him as vulnerable after a dramatic prison escape, and our hero survives to live another day, and go to another testy set of appointments with his therapist. Best of all, for those who are fond of this novel, the ending of the novel clearly sets up a sequel where even some of the foes live to see another day and seek to avenge themselves on Dewey. This novel is good enough that I plan on adding the previous novels in the series to my reading list so that I can catch up with Dewey, and that I could see this book being made into a movie with as much drama as the Bourne series. This novel is that good. If you like gripping political thrillers with international political drama and that deal with vexing questions of political legitimacy and the psychological burden of heroism in the contemporary world, this novel delivers on a visceral, intellectual, psychological, and even moral level. In the future, I would be happy to read any signed advanced reader’s copies that Mr. Coes has of any more works if they are written in the same vein and with the same skill.
 See, for example: