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Review: The Devil’s Light by Richard North Patterson

June 2, 2011

I can’t help but wonder what Richard North Patterson thought as he watched the breaking news about Osama bin Laden’s death — just scant hours before the release of Patterson’s new novel about al Qaeda and the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Bin Laden isn’t the central character of The Devil’s Light, but he certainly plays a key role and serves as a looming threat. So was the novel undone by the headlines? Or is there still a relevance and maybe even an urgency to the story? Here’s an excerpt of my review of the new book at AARP:

Set in August and September of 2011, the novel conjures up a nightmare scenario in which al Qaeda gets its hands on a nuclear bomb — the “devil’s light” of the book’s title. The group’s resulting schemes threaten new levels of destruction, sending shockwaves of fear across the United States and around the world. Controlling events from the shadows stands Osama bin Laden, hiding out in Pakistan as his myrmidons unleash a plot to “fill the world with awe, our enemies with dread.”

U.S. Navy SEALs may have shot a hole (or two) in the plot of Patterson’s latest — and it’s tough not to read the early chapters without that awareness — but you’ll be surprised by how little recent real-world events defuse the terrifying possibilities outlined in these pages. Indeed, much of the prose here meshes all too plausibly with the headlines you’ll find in most any newspaper, a testament to the author’s thorough research and precise plotting.

Read the full review here. — Art Taylor

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