As I’ve mentioned here before, I don’t read too many big, international thrillers anymore, but I still like a good one every now and then, and RED SEA by E.A. Benedek falls into that category. It begins with three airliners being blown out of the sky by terrorists. You could almost call this an anti-terrorism procedural, because it follows the efforts of an FBI agent, a reporter, and an Israeli intelligence agent to discover who was responsible for the bombings and how they pulled it off. Naturally enough, the three investigations soon intertwine, and our heroes discover that the downing of the airplanes is just the beginning of a larger and much more dangerous plot.
Benedek, a journalist who has written a considerable amount of non-fiction about international affairs, knows her stuff. There’s plenty of behind-the-scenes information about how terrorists plot are uncovered and investigated, and it all rings true. As a first-time novelist, Benedek sometimes tends to let these info-dumps get out of hand, but for the most part the pace moves along quite nicely. Her protagonists are likable and well-drawn. I also like the way she gives one of them a personal stake in the story, and that ties in with a satisfying ending that’s set up very early on, something I always enjoy. Also, in a book like this you’d expect the climax to involve a lot of high-tech weaponry. Instead, we get a low-tech but very suspenseful showdown. Good stuff, and the best part of the book for me.
If you like globe-trotting, large-cast, high-stakes thrillers, I think you’ll probably enjoy RED SEA. I liked it well enough to be looking forward to seeing what Benedek comes up with next.
THRILLING WESTERN October 1953
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