Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Onion Files

Listening to The Onion Files from Podiobooks certainly is timely. Set in the months right after the terrorists' attacks on the Twin Towers in Sept. 11, 2001, it follows a retired U.S. intelligence agent, Jim Buchan, and his computer whiz-kid son, Mike, as they combine skills and uncover another terrorist plot that is about to be put in motion. The story is told in a very straight-forward fashion and is read without embellishment by the author, Major General Val Pattee. The Onion Files refer to a layered computer program designed to wreak havoc across the United States. It is similar to one that Jim had foiled many years ago and he suspects the same terrorist is generating it. The story also takes us into the heart of Al-Qaeda and their recruiting tactics within the United States so that we see both sides of the story unfolding.

As I mentioned, this story is told in a very straight forward fashion, yet there was something about it that I just could not stop listening to. I ran through it in about five days, addicted as chapter after chapter revealed a new layer of the onion. Unexpectedly, about halfway through the book, the plot suddenly began revealing Pattee's own onion layers as unsuspected directions were taken, throwing the reader off guard.

As the father-son team travels the world to meet with other intelligence workers, Pattee reveals not only his depth of experience (just read his bio ... very impressive indeed) but his love and appreciation for many of the places he has visited such as Turkey and Russia. As well, I found a sheer depth of patriotism and love for basic American citizens that threw me off guard in feeling my own patriotic response and remembrance of the terror of Sept. 11 well up inside. That was when I realized that I was experiencing this story in the same week when Sept. 11 would be remembered once again. It is a fitting tribute to the intelligence workers, military, and everyone who has put their life on the line in helping to keep us safe.

As well as a thumping good read (or listen).

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