Panic and Fear, finding them both professional efforts, but generic, pedestrian, and lacking in complexity and layering. Definitely the work of an author who has not quite figured out how to write an intriguing story with fully-fleshed characters with nuance and a developed personality. My most recent read of Abbott was entitled Collision and in my opinion this was the best of his novels that I have read. This was a story of some degree of subtlety, of intrigue that pulled me in, and of action that served to promote the story instead of being gratuitous. Characters of souls in white, black, and every shade in between.
The story begins with Ben Forsberg and his wife Emily in Maui on their honeymoon. Both Ben and Emily work in the field of government consulting, linking private security firms to needs the government has in the U.S. and abroad. Emily is killed by a sniper without warning and her murderer is never found. A short while after Ben returns home and begins to return to some semblance of equilibrium, agents from Homeland Security link him to a sniper killing in Dallas. Ben is caught completely off guard and unaware. He has no idea what the agents are talking about, only that they seemingly have strong evidence to lay at his feet. Ben is immediately ensconsed in the unseemly muck of crooked government contractors, rogue CIA groups, and terrorist plots. The more the private security firms can rile up the terrorists and keep them as present threats to the world, the more these billion dollar companies can pull in. As terrorism activities quell, the government-funded operations struggle to maintain their power base and survive. In short, peace is not in their best interest.
The story was very well paced and things didn't come into full focus until the end. The aspect that I most appreciated was that the characters couldn't be easily labeled as "good guy" or "bad guy". Even those bending the rules well past their breaking point, sometimes had good reason and were looking toward the greater good. While Abbott may never be a master of character development, he definitely created a story here that I enjoyed and that had me hoping that Ben would survive and get his life back.