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Prepared for Rage    by Dana Stabenow order for
Prepared for Rage
by Dana Stabenow
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, CD

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* *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Popular and prolific author Dana Stabenow's latest entry into the literary world of mystery thrillers features an intriguing adventure dominated by duplicity, betrayal, terrorists, passion, a large cast of characters, and a complicated intersection of plots and subplots.

Along one plotline, readers follow the professional and personal progress of the charming and heroic Cal Schuyler, U.S. Coast Guard officer and son of a prominent politician.

A second plotline - quickly converging with the first - showcases the brilliant and seductive Kenai Monroe, an astronaut who has been selected to fly on NASA's new mission in which international politics and apolitical scientific interests converge and collide.

In a third plotline, a bitter and sorrowful Pakistani man named Akil prominently positions himself as the leader of a dangerous new Islamic terrorist group calling itself Servant of God; with single-minded determination and impressive resourcefulness, Akil gathers together loyal followers and moves covertly from Pakistan, to Europe, and to the United Sates where he finally readies himself for a high-stakes assault upon one of America's most venerated but vulnerable symbols.

Meanwhile, from the outset, the CIA - although complicated by internal friction and rivalries - has been focusing on Akil and his renegade group, but only when it is too late for the CIA to react effectively, Prepared for Rage features a pulse-pounding, breathtaking convergence of the CIA, Cal Schuyler, Kenai Monroe, and the Servant of God zealots.

Well-known for the fifteen novels in her Kate Shugak series (as well as a dozen other books), Dana Stabenow, in this outing, has drawn upon extensive first-hand research (with the U.S. Coast Guard) to produce a topical tale that is effective, relevant, and frightening because of its real-life possibilities. Though some of Stabenow's fans may prefer Shugak and her adventures in the rugged Alaskan environment, Prepared for Rage is a cleverly executed stand-alone thriller that ought to attract plenty of satisfied readers. Enjoy!

2nd Review by Hilary Williamson:

I have read and enjoyed every one of Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak series and have also delved into her Liam Campbell mysteries. She opened up new territory in Blindfold Game, a tale of terrorists and high seas adventure, whose married leads (Hugh Rincon and Sara Lange) suffered the long-distance relationship mandated by their careers. This was the first in what appears to be a new thriller series, focusing (at least for now) on the United States Coast Guard and on terrorism.

Though Prepared for Rage has different leads, Hugh and Sara play their parts as do the Coasties and a delightful spy, grandmotherly - and surprisingly effective - freelance journalist Arlene Harte. Early on, readers see seeds that germinate into the terrorist leader's rage for revenge against the United States. We also watch the mostly ineffectual efforts of the CIA's Joint Terrorism Task Force - though they do acquire useful information from Hugh Rincon, now with a global think tank in London - as they seek intel on a highly placed, ruthless terrorist named Isa, and on his plans for a strike against 'the very symbol of America's power and prestige.'

Readers get a sense of the character of one of the larger than life leads, Coast Guard golden boy Captain Cal Schuyler, as he helps with Katrina response in 2005 New Orleans, and befriends 'the only national treasure walking around on two legs', Lieutenant Commander Mustafa Awad Azizi. We also get a glimpse of Cal's complex relationship with his U.S. Senator father. The other lead, lovely astronaut Kenai Munro, is thrilled to be named to a shuttle crew, but not so happy with the assignment to babysit an imperious Qatari sheik who will be a passenger on the shuttle - crew members nickname him the Arabian Knight.

Cal and Kenai meet on his cutter, the Monroe. He's been tasked with working the shuttle launch (expected to be mostly a PR mission.) An immediate strong attraction leads to regular meetings which they keep private to avoid media attention. As in her previous Blindfold Game, Dana Stabenow pulls all her plot strands together at the very last minute in a spectacular ending, filled with explosive action. I enjoyed Prepared for Rage just as much as Blindfold Game, and for the same reasons - as a well executed thriller and for its credible, well-researched, and fascinating background on life in the U.S. Coast Guard.

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