"Prepared For Rage" is Dana Stabenow's second Coastguard thriller. This time we track the slow, indirect but inevitable intersection between Abdullah (literally servant of God) a rogue cell of Al Qaeda, a Coastguard vessel in Florida, and the Space Shuttle.
Although some of the characters are the same as in "Blindfold Game", "Prepared For Rage" works as a standalone novel so feel free to dive right in.
Dana Stabenow makes "Prepared For Rage" more than a terrorist threat thriller by using it as a vehicle for topics she is passionate about.
She staunchly defends the value of the Coast Guard, this time highlighting their role in the Katrina aftermath the Coast Guard were almost the only Federal Agency to provide immediate and effect assistance. Her admiration for them is surpassed only by her anger at the Federal agencies that did nothing to help.
Dana Stabenow's long standing love affair with space travel (see her Star Svendotter books) surfaces in a vivid evocation of the astronauts preparing for one of the last (post-Challenger) Space Shuttle missions.
That's pretty much the end of the positive emotions. The FBI, apart from a couple of dedicated but almost disregarded individuals, are shown as inept and crippled by political appointees. The lack of security of US ports is laid like an indictment at the feet of the administration.
For me, the best part of the book was the portrayal of the Al Qaeda terrorist at the centre of the book. While some of the main American characters where as shiny and perfect as American dentistry, the Al Qaeda leader of Abdullah was gritty, twisted, broken and deeply troubling. Dana Stabenow shows us a clever, ruthless, dedicated man, who knows how to recruit people to his campaign and use them to whatever is necessary, regardless of the personal cost. He is an educated man with skills that would allow him to prosper in the West and build a life for himself but who is driven by his mission even when following it means giving up his life to it. The fact that he is disciplined, charismatic,introspective and brave doesn't win us over to his side, it just makes him a more formidable enemy.
As far as plot and suspense goes, this is an above average thriller that kept me guessing (and enjoying guessing) right to the end.
The passion with which Dana Stabenow writes gives the book more power, although, oddly, the most realistic and engaging parts of the novel are not about the Americans trying to do the right thing but about the terrorists who move with such deadly purpose.
Lorelei King does a great job as narrator on this book, managing all the changes in tone and accent perfectly.