Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Review: Red Sea by E.A. Benedek PLUS a Guest Post by the Author!

The unthinkable has happened. Again. Four airplanes in different parts of the world are blown up in mid-flight. As soon as word comes in, Israeli operatives are forming a task force. None of their aircraft were involved but it is in Israel's best interests to keep on top of what is happening in the world of terrorism.

Israeli agent Julian Granot is part of the team, called in from retirement because of his expertise and connections. He soon convinces a young American aviation reporter, Marie Peterssen, to look into one of the service locations for aircraft video equipment. Julian suspects that terrorists have been working for the equipment shop.

As Marie is drawn further into the investigation, the trail leads her to Baghdad where she meets FBI agent Morgan Ensley. Finding their interests are in common, the two investigate the terror network in Iraq and the one man who seems to be the key to it all. The plot is far bigger than it seemed at the beginning and the lives of millions of people are on the line as all three race to stop a plot whose outcome would change the world.

To me, this book was absolutely chilling. (The echo of 9/11 never fades for me, I am constantly faced with that reality because the industry I work in lies at the heart of the events of that day.) The author has painted a scarily realistic scenario that will keep you on the edge of your seat and leave you wondering about security measures and hoping that we have sharp people on the job. It's a great read, the characters are smart and likable and the personal backgrounds are interesting.

Welcome to the author, Emily Benedek, who sent me this fascinating guest post about writing this book:

People have asked me what inspired me to write RED SEA. My inspiration was meeting a source for a Newsweek story I'd written soon after 9/11.The man was an expert in airline security, and we met several times in New York after my story had come out. Why did he want to meet me? This was a man who liked developing sources. That was his job and his habit. Also, he had some measure of trust for me because he'd made a request of me during our interview for the Newsweek story, a request I had honored.

He was a fascinating person who told amazing stories. After a few meetings, he asked me if I would consider writing a book about airline security--he was convinced at the time that Washington would not do the right thing by its air passengers. I had already written three non-fiction books and I knew what was involved. I was intrigued. So in our next meeting, I put down a tape recorder and switched it on. For the first time, he was much less open in his conversation, and I immediately snapped off the recorder. I realized right away that the kind of insider information he had would very hard to triple-verify -- what I would have to do for a non-fiction book. So I asked him if he thought it might be easier to tell his story as fiction instead. "Maybe" he said. "Maybe."

We continued to meet and I found out more about him--he had been a commando and then a commander in Israel's most elite special forces unit and an operator for Israel's security service in Europe. He was a very senior operator and a very intelligent person.

I began to create characters in my mind--of a retired Israeli commando with a heavy past, an American female journalist with something to prove,and a maverick (excuse the term) FBI agent. I had spent a year following an FBI agent for a story, so I knew something about how that agency was run. All the threats in the plot, all the operational details are correct and based on as much detailed and intensive reporting as if the book had indeed been non-fiction.

The safety of seaports has been a huge concern of American security officials--and for good reason. Millions of sea containers enter our ports every year, almost none of which get inspected. I decided to put an attempt to attack one of our seaports in the book, and then I had to find experts who could tell me what took place on ships--how they were laid out, what the threats were and how much bribery and criminality was involved in the sea trade.

I felt when I wrote RED SEA that Americans were being very naive about the threat of terrorism. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration, by using the threat for political ends, by launching a senseless war in the name of counter-terror, and by trying to abridge Americans rights, has made it much harder now to talk about terrorism. Because now Americans are frustrated, angered, and confused about it. Unfortunately, the threat remains. I tried to show how a very smart and experienced person thinks about and fights terror. And how two principled, brave people try to learn fast and help out. I also tried to show the weaknesses in the American system, which I'm afraid are accurately drawn.

I am now working on the next book--Marie, Morgan and Julian are back together again, this time trying to interfere with Iran's development of the bomb.

Thank you Emily! And my thanks, too, to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to participate in this tour! Here are the other stops that are scheduled:

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’
Monday, November 3rd: Right Truth
Wednesday, November 5th: Dark Party Review
Monday, November 10th: The Sleepy Reader
Thursday, November 13th: Should Be Reading
Monday, November 17th: Musings of a Bookish Kitty

Red Sea is published by St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-35492-3

Order Red Sea from Amazon


Michele said...

Now you just know I'm going to have to read this one. Thanks for the review...I might not have heard of it if not for you.

bermudaonion said...

I'm used to books like this being written by male authors and I think it's wonderful to see a female doing it, and apparently doing it well. Thanks for the review.

caite said...

Sounds very interesting...and yes, it is nice to see a book in this genre written by a woman.

Literary Feline said...

What a great interview! Thank you for sharing. I like finding out the why behind the story and this one is especially intriguing.

I recently read Red Sea as well for the tour and really liked it. You're right, it is quite chilling.

tashiana said...

how bold of this author to write about something so similar to 9/11 this could have been an epic fail
good thing the writer has talent
this novel has scary potential

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New Hampshire, United States
Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.