Tag Archives: Poland

The Pentagon and the CIA take a lot of punishment in this novel of rendition and torture

A review of The Midnight House, by Alex Berenson

@@@@ (4 out of 5)

The Midnight House of the title is a secret site in Poland where high-value prisoners in the “war on terror” are clandestinely flown to be interrogated outside the jurisdiction of U.S. law and even the U.S. Military Code of Justice. The term of art for this process is, of course, rendition, and the tactics employed by the secret team assembled by the CIA and the Pentagon can only be called torture. There’s nothing subtle about this novel.

The events that take place in the Midnight House over a two-month period in 2008 are so explosive, and so shocking, that they lead to an upheaval in relations between the U.S. and Pakistan, end the career of a senior U.S. intelligence official, and spark a series of brutal murders. As I say, there’s nothing subtle about this novel.

Berenson writes from an omniscient perspective, revealing the thoughts of a long series of minor characters as the story moves forward, but his soldier-spy-hero, John Wells, dominates the tale. Called back into action from an escapist vacation in the mountains of northern New Hampshire, Wells is maneuvered into investigating what appears to be the sequential murder of the members of the top-secret team that operated the Midnight House. Together with his nominal boss, Ellis Shafer, Wells soon finds himself enmeshed in a bewilderingly political set of tense, interlocking relationships among the principal figures in the story. As it turns out, nothing is what it seems.

The Midnight House is the fourth of Berenson’s six John Wells novels to date. There’s no sign he’s slowing down.

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Filed under Mysteries & Thrillers, Spy Stories