|Black Ops (Presidential Agent Novels)
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The Russian bear is stirring?and it?s hungry? in the #1 New York Times?bestselling series? thrilling fifth novel.
The first disturbing reports reached Delta Force Lieutenant Colonel Charley Castillo in the form of backchannel messages concerning covert U.S. intelligence assets working for a variety of agencies suddenly gone missing and then, suddenly, inexplicably, found dying. Or dead. One in Budapest, Hungary. One in Kiev, Ukraine. One in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, mere klicks from the Iran border. And then one in Virginia, along the Potomac River, practically in the shadow of CIA headquarters.
Castillo finds the information both infuriating and fascinating, particularly after a recent experience with two CIA traitors whose own deaths were swift and suspicious. Despite there being some similarities, though, he thinks there?s something different with these new cases, something he can?t quite put his finger on. At first, it?s idle thought, but Castillo expects it?s only a matter of time before the commander in chief assigns him and his group of troubleshooters in the innocuously named Office of Organizational Analysis to look into the deaths while all those intel agencies fight among themselves trying to put the pieces together.
Meanwhile, Castillo has problems of his own?fallout from recent missions involving a clandestine rescue of a DEA agent from South American drug runners, and the confiscation of some fifty million dollars from thieves in the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal. He?s made more than a few enemies, he knows?both foreign and domestic. And then comes another back-channel message, this one delivered personally by his lethal friend, the Russian mobster arms dealer. All that has happened so far, he says, is just a warm-up for what?s about to come out of the Kremlin.
Could sabers be rattling for a new Cold War? Or worse? Presidential Agent C. G. Castillo is about to find out. . . .
Filled with Griffin?s trademark rich characters and cutting-edge drama, this is another exceptional novel in an exceptional series.
- W.E.B. Griffin captures my attention from the very first page.
I'm a W.E.B. Griffin addict. I can't get enough of his story telling. I know there is more story to tell and can't wait for him to write the next book in the series.
- MARGINALLY POINTESS TO MINDLESS DRIVEL
How Griffin in good conscience can write such drivel and his publisher put that in circulation is as mind-blowing as the quality of this book.
Griffin spent 98% of this book superficially developing multiple characters. Heck, right thru the very end of the book he continues in his quest to develop characters never, ever breaking the very top and thinnest layer of derma.
To borrow from Jogi Berra, the other 98% is spent on endless and equally mindless dialogue between the aforementioned "characterless" characters.
As to the action in this "action" thriller, well, readers who consider multiple "wheels-up at ..." action, you have lots of that.
How sad when an author decides to learn to write dialogue and fill up hundreds of pages with sterile lectures with nothing in the foreground happening.
I will ask the publisher for my money back....more info
I have read several of Griffin's books but this will be the last. If you take out the endless conversations and glorification of Castillo the entire book could be written in 20 pages....more info
- WEB Griffin has become tedious in the extreme
Many writers start with strong characteristics that make their books appealing, but which eventually morph into their major weaknesses. WEB Griffin is a case in point. His early novels contained technical details that were authentic and interesting. His most recent works, including this one, are bloated with meaningless details and redundancy that merely fill pages. I read the first hundred pages and found it moving so slowly that I decided to return it to the library without finishing it. However, I stuck with it, skipping over sections that were filled with details that added nothing to the plot. For example, how many times is it necessary to identify characters by their full name, rank, and branch of service? Do we really need to be reminded a dozen times, that every time Castillo's dog, Max, dismounts from the Gulfstream he pees on the nose wheel? Most readers don't need the full nomenclature of the Model 1911A1 Colt .45 ACP semiautomatic pistol more than once, if that.
I guess in retrospect I don't regret reading this through until the end, but tight writing it ain't. Cut about 100 pages from its 452, and the book would be immeasurably improved. Griffin spins a good tale, but his books have become tedious reading. All the characters are larger than life. That's all right, but they all talk the same--super smart wise guys who defeat the bureaucracy every time. They plan interminably and in excruciating detail.
Each time I read a Griffin book, I vow it will be the last, but he's still interesting enough that I'll probably read it--if I don't have to buy it....more info
- best, most complex of the series
I have now read the entire series of the Presidential Agent/C.G, Catillo books. The first two are slightly more exciting and adventuresom, although that may be in part to the newness of the characters that we are still learning about. This book, "Black Ops" in essence wraps up a number of loose ends that have been foreshadowed throughout the series, a few even from the first volume. I do not know if Griffin is planning on ending the series here, or merely changing the direction (I won't spoil the change in direction, but be ready for one), but this is a volume you should not miss....more info
- Nice read - perhaps the best in this series
I am a big fan of the author, and buy books from some of his series the day they are available. I have been a little disappointed with a few of the books on this Presidential Series, but this one was a good read.
I'll spare everyone more recaps of the plot, but make a few comments.
I agree with those reviewers who felt that part of this book was written by someone else. There was a disconnect here, not WEB's style. The descriptions of the murders in the beginning, the chance meeting up of the Russians on the train, were lacking some detail. The ending was interesting, yes short, but the author captures the reality of these missions, planning and sitting around are oftentimes much more time consuming than the actual op.
I'm glad the author gave the dog Max a lesser role, and feel that the commuting back and forth to Budapest, Vienna, Argentina was getting a bit tedious.
As the plot thickened, I found myself getting up in the middle of the night to read a few chapters. I look forward to reading the next series.
In short, not perfect, but pretty darn good read....more info
- WEBG is NOT First Rate Anymore!
Too many poorly developed characters, too much "Conversation", and too little story line! I doubt this is the same author writing as before.
Go back to the basics. I love dogs, but I have my own, I don't need MAX. WEBG used to write about things I could believe, this was pure trash, all BS! I was military for 30 years. The military in this book dosen't exist!
If WEBG isn't writing the books now,Black Ops (Presidential Agent Novels) take his name off of the cover. GG...more info
- OVER THE TOP
THIS IS A VERY GOOD BOOK, BUT A LITTLE OVER THE TOP.
STILL, A GOOD READ....more info
- Tipping point in the series
I am a long time fan of W.E.B. Griffin, a master of writing a series where the characters become like relatives or friends of his readers. My favorite series is "The Corps", which takes the reader through WWII and into the Korean Conflict. Griffin's new series, "Presidential Agent" is set in modern times with modern conflicts with terrorists in a politically correct world. Personality and agency conflicts provide the tension, and USA LTC Carlos Castillo, the center character of the series, reminds me of USMC Major McCoy in "The Corps" series.
Agency infighting and egos once again block intelligence about a developing terrorist attack. The president has formed a special intelligence/operational group under his personal control, headed by LTC Castillo. Previous success by Castillo has earned him the enmity of the CIA, FBI, and the director of national intelligence--The Ambassador.
Castillo faces many challenges, one of which is dealing with senior officers when he is in charge. However, he also has his "angels" who provide him as much protection as they can. The tipping point in the series comes when Castillo once again out foxes the alphabet agencies and wins the battle--but will he loose the war? You must read the book to find out.
Black Ops is not a page turning action-adventure novel, but it is a page turning political-intelligence suspense novel, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I suggest that new readers begin at the beginning of the series, otherwise is it easy to become confused by the continuing stories from previous books, a Griffin hallmark, and a technique that I attempt to emulate.
- Non-Fictional Fiction
There are times when fiction offers a more telling truth than non-fiction and W.E.B. Griffin with his Brotherhood of War, Men At War, The Corps, Honor Bound, Badge of Honor and Presidential Agent series do just that.
The stories ring true with an insider's attention to detail and military or police procedural understanding that most fiction writers haven't yet mastered. His characters are good at what they do, and sometimes they are very, very good. They're not super men but highly trained, dedicated and risk taking Americans from every ethnic walk of life. Ladies and gentlemen, these people exist and they are serving today.
The down side it seems is that that the better ones are consigned to the officer's corp. While it doesn't always do justice to the immensely talented soldiers of the enlisted ranks this is a small issue in the overall scheme and theme of his collective work, perhaps it is even nit-picking because the bottom line is that Griffin's books are enjoyable reads and, I suspect, have a strong foundation in reality. His spec op good guys have their flaws as well as their talents and they have their share of luck, and perhaps that is what makes it more palatable. Luck in combat or dangerous settings probably saves more lives than it is given credit for. In short, Griffin's books ring true with clarity and tone.
Having gone through all of his books I come away thinking I've spent some time with some old and valuable friends and that's the kind of magic that many authors can't seem to conjure up.
Yeah, his books are often continuations and leave us hanging, waiting for the next go round but they're damn good books and with BLACK OPS it's nice to back amongst friends, even if it is only for a brief visit....more info
- End of a series, or beginning of a new one?
Griffin has been one of my favorite authors since his origional military series.
Though the storylines tend to follow a similar vein in each book/series, I think he is one of the best writers around when it comes to character development....more info
- WEB Griffin Presidential Agnet Series
The same good book WEB Griffin had ever wrote. Looking forward to the next adventure of Col Castillo...more info
- Griffin at his best
This is Griffin at his best - writing alone and without the "help" of his son. He takes the story from where it left off in book IV of the series, but does not do the 100% recap. in the first 50 pages, as some of his more recent books have done. He weaves the stories from the earlier novels into the narrative, as appropriate.
It is a good plot, he keeps developing the characters, and he provides a real ending - unlike a few other of his more recent novels, the ending seems to come naturally and not pushed to meet a page number count.
The proof reading still needs a little work - on page 205 the phrase "out of mind" should read "out of my mind" and on page 306, the CIA Travel report on the Congo lists an Ebola outbreak in September of 2007, although the report is dated January 2006. Although they mention the State Department Travel Advisories (In my opinion mostly political BS), he fails to mention that the British Foreign Office still provides real world travel advisories to their subjects on their web site.
The author has kept up with his weapons and does not have the usual firearm errors that other writers tend to have in abundance. He even has the team using the fairly new HK MP7A1 rather than the much older HK MP5.
Another winner by Mr. Butterworth under his Griffin nom de plume....more info
- Not as good as the others
I have read all the previous novels in this series and was anxiously waiting this final one. I was very disappointed in this novel. The other 3 were very exciting and very action packed. I do have to admire Mr Griffens attention to detail though. The only real likable part of the book was his new love interest and the possiblility of future books with the ever expanding list of characters. I listen to all of these on audio and Dick Hill makes it all worthwhile. I think if I had to sit down and read this last installment I would have probaly given up on it. I just got back from a long trip to Utah and listen to it going and coming back. Both my wife and I really had to stick it out to finish the book. I can't say it wasn't well written, I just expected a different story line....more info
- Just what you wanted
C'mon, if your a fan of WEB, this is just what you wanted. The thing about all his series of books, is that reading them is like visiting old friends, and as soon as you finish the book, your kinda melencholy becuase you won't see them for a while. Buy the book, and escape into WEB's world for a while. :)...more info
- A Dismal Reading Experience
"Black Ops"--the sixth volume in Griffin's "Presidential Agent" series--is a disappointing read. There is almost no realtime action in the novel: one sentence on page 119 ("She then leapt to the platform with the agility of a gazelle, and, adjusting her skirt in the process, ran quickly to the truck and got in."). Otherwise, readers must content themselves with scenes of men and their cigars telling and re-telling warstories--accounts already familiar to loyal Griffin readers.
Perhaps Griffin deliberately chose to write such a dull piece as a sop to his readers, preparing them for C.G. Castillo's shift into adulthood (mature relationship with a woman, retirement from Special Ops derring-do). This volume is more "political" than most of Griffin's work; several times Oliver North is referred to favorably, as are other rabid conservative phenomena of the late 20th Century. Perhaps Griffin is merely trying to reflect his perceptions of the officer corps...and perhaps he is lauding or advancing a personal agenda. No matter--this novel is such a dismal effort that he has minimal success.
The best passages are travel writing: Griffin's descriptions of Argentina, its social history, its modern economy and politics.
Two Stars....more info
- A Blatant Rip-Off
This was my first Griffin book, and this is my first product review of any kind. But I am moved to write because "Black Ops" is the worst book I have ever read, bar none! The plot and characters are very thin, there is almost no action, and all of this is fleshed out by endless vapid discussions which add a lot of words to the book but not much else. This seems an example of a trend observed elsewhere, i.e., aging author living off earlier reputation and either not writing well any more or having books ghost-written and published under his name. Charging even $10 for the Kindle edition is, well, criminal....more info
- The worst W.E.B. Griffin book I've ever read - and I've read 33 of them.
Time was when I would look forward to the release of a new W.E.B. Griffin series with great anticipation and snatch it up as soon as it hit the shelves, knowing that a long night or two of pleasureful, suspenseful reading lay ahead.
But the last several novels, several written with his son, have been increasingly disappointing, lacking the strong characters and plots of earlier efforts.
"Black Ops" is simply awful.
It is a travelogue without purpose as the story traverses 17 locations - with essentially no action taking place. Instead it is a narrative of how the already boring character of Lieutenant Colonel "Charley" Castillo, the head of a mythical secret unit reporting to the President, spends his time eating well, drinking a lot and bedding exotic women. Griffin, by the way, has little talent for writing sex scenes which is probably why he stayed away from them or so many decades.
The story is minimal. In short order, several people are murdered around the world. Of course, they are all connected to Castillo's glorious past in some tenuous way. Castillo is the wealthy scion of a German woman whose one-night stand with an American Army helicopter pilot produced him. She just happened to inherit a newspaper publishing empire in Europe. His father, killed in Vietnam turns out to a Medal Of Honor recipient and, as you might expect, heir to an oil and ranching empire. In other words, Castillo is filthy rich which helps when he needs to charter a Gulfstream on short notice.
Griffin has used this plot device to good effect in many other books. Here it simply falls flat - along with everything else.
Without wanting to spoil the lack of fun for anyone, everything in this book turns on coincidences - absolutely unbelievable coincidences. Castillo travels from one city to another on a Gulstream until one of his companions, cut from thin paper, demands they travel by train for the benefit of a dog whose appearance in most of the book is strange. Of course, taking the train results in a coincidence which drives the rest of this boring novel.
The scene shifts from Europe to South America, where we meet more uninteresting, predictable and dull characters. There are many meals. There are many drinks poured. There are many boring pages filled with details of boring meals and drinking sessions.
Castillo learns of a nasty plot against humanity brewing in Africa. A team is dispatched. Castillo doesn't go - some other people do and all we learn is that they were successful. Predictably so.
W.E.B. Griffin is in his late seventies or early eighties. He has provided millions across the world with earthy, gritty stories of the military for decades. As I noted, I am a fan and have read and reread his five military series. I respect that at an age where many would be pursuing other activities, Griffin is still writing.
The difficulty is that what he is writing today is not as compelling and interesting as what he wrote yesterday.
Over the last several Griffin novels, the quality and excitement has been trending down. This is the the worst. "Black Ops" is boring, the characters hollow, the plot entirely predictable and the storytelling flat.
I don't think I'll even bother with the next Griffin book - and I am sorry to say that. Rereading the old ones is more enjoyable.
- A Very Unusual Griffin
Can you imagine: a W.E.B. Griffin book in which none of the major characters ever pulls a trigger? And one in which two members of the SVR (ex KGB) Become "good guys"? But then, they are members of the "oprichina", a kind of Russian aristocracy, of whom some are not so enamoured of the extremes of Russian political maneuvering. Some, like the new goodies, are even very religious. (But Putin is one, too). Yet, the story hangs together, as Charlie Castillo battles almost more with the U.S. intelligence hierarchy than with the bad guys, and the plot to wage chemical-biological warfare against American cities is thwarted. And at the end Castillo is no longer a Presidential Agent, and everyone is out of the military and the government service, but his organisation is intact, and more international, and he has a most unusual wife. So what will come next? I can hardly wait....more info
- Who's writing these books?!
I am convinced that the last WEB Griffin story actually written by Griffin toke place before the Korean War. Black Ops is an example of what is not WEB Griffin! I have read just about everything ever written by WEB Griffin, many several times, and the last several books have been major disappointments. Compared to recent books, the Corps, Army and police stories are classics....more info
I'm tired of reading the same infomation over and over....I know the characters by now...this will be the last of the Presidential series for me...W.E.B. has lost a fan to his mindless repetition...to his cut and paste approach to writing.... There are too many fish in the sea...I'm bored! ...more info
- Only stuck with it out of loyalty to the series.
I really was a big fan of this series but the fifth and assumed final book is in my opinion a disappointment as a read. I was grabbed by the novels early on and the action and intrigue but I felt this version was pure boredom and just a recap of most of the things that I'd read in the previous novels. At one point I kind of cared about Castillo as a character and was willing to suspend the fantasy of his lifetime because the variety of circumstances in life seemed to help the story but even the protagonist became a just another of the lame tired group of characters, all constatly cracking wise, all the best at what they do but not appreciated by the system and all miraculously able to outwit the other 6 billion people on the planet trying to stop them. This book probably could've been condensed down to 100 pages easily without losing anything of value from the story to those of us that have been along since the start--was it necessary for Castillo to give Dick Miller the back story at one point? Did Miller (Castillo's sidekick from go) suddenly forget all that had happened in the previous 6 months? Castillo finally finds the woman of his dreams but I never took the bait as there'd been other woman of his dreams that appeared and disappeared suddenly in the past. Honestly about the only part of the book that I felt was compelling was Castillo's son finding out the truth but even that was done away with quickly so we could get back to the formula of Delchamps calling Charlie "Ace", somebody new being brought into the circle of hundreds that are given full disclosure of the Top Secret Presidential finding, and Charlie trying to squeeze in saving the world when he isn't having sex.
Loyalty to the series which really had moments of enjoyment give it two stars but I'm not sure it deserves more than one....more info
- Black Ops Is a Good Read -- If you know what to expect!
Watch Video Here: http://www.amazon.com/review/R10J5GY5BACQ8D I noticed a couple of negative reviews here on Amazon. As a total fan of W.E.B. Griffin, I think you just don't know what to expect. He (almost) never disappoints. (Okay, there was the one he wrote with his son) This book is a continuation of the Presidential Agent series and it does what we all want it to do! See my video review... Frank Derfler author of A Glint in Time...more info
- Get it from the library
My copy of Black Ops is going to the Goodwill bag. I am a huge fan of Griffin, but this book does little in 400+ pages other than to introduce a girlfriend and set the stage for another volume. It is not a keeper and certainly not on the level of any of the other books. ...more info
- Not just a Fiction Book
First off, I did not have very high expectations for this book fromr the reviews, but I was happily wrong. I enjoyed the character interplay immensely. The book started slow, but really picked up. I was also happy that he ties up a lot of loose ends, and answers questions I had in the previous books of the series.
Griffin really goes after Putin in this book. Its not to say charlie and his band of merry men are going up against him, but there is definetly his shadow in the background. Griffin has always had a lot of information that was not fiction in his books. Not like Clancy where you learn about tactics are minuta, but how something like the kgb has been around for 100's of years in Russia.
If you are looking for some firefights are battles in this one, nope there not there, but in my mind his books have always been about charactors. ...more info