| by Kristen Perry
The war on terror isn’t just “over there.” It’s over here, too, in American neighborhoods
like the Virginia suburbs with middle-class houses, children and tricycles, adulterous
housewives, home owner associations that monitor driveways, and, of course, the spies
who spy on them, us and each other in Washington, D.C.
In Master Spies Die Laughing, author Dan Speers takes the reader on an adventure of
espionage and corruption that is both amusing and frightening, racing through scenarios so
outlandish as to be completely believable.
Terrorists, or more precisely, two intruders who appear to be terrorists, have hidden a
bomb beneath the White House, a bomb that will detonate in five days and launch a new
American war of prevention, this time with Iran in the nuclear cross-hairs.
This novel recounts the events of those five, momentous days through the eyes of a truly
strange and motley assortment of characters from politicos and diplomats, to military
officers and duplicitous agents to reporters, cuckolds and even a gangster or two. As for
the would-be terrorists, they might just be your next door neighbors.
In a world where airport security can find out everything about a person from his or her
name to what prescriptions he or she has on file at the pharmacy, Speers reveals how the
government knows what it knows about us, and how it can use a combination of
technology and subterfuge to find out what it doesn’t know.
And if the evolving science of intrusion monitoring and personal data detection is chilling,
the underlying message is even more frightening: When the government is behaving
unacceptably by invading the privacy of Americans, more unacceptable behaviors are sure
to follow. Excess begets excess.
NSA agents are spying on everyone but terrorists. NCC agents use the newest technologies
available to the government to talk adulterous housewives into bed, reap the benefits of
drug deals, make investments with insider information, get revenge on a school
headmaster, and promote their own agendas.
When there are greater rewards to be had elsewhere, there is just no incentive to use these
technologies to track down terrorists. But when an administration feels threatened by a
critic of its Iraqi policies, a great deal of manpower is devoted to locating a songwriter who
has released an antiwar ballad that is climbing up the charts.
The phone companies keep records on every American who has ever made a phone call for
billing purposes, but they don’t listen in on calls. The government does that. After all, how
would the NSA know which calls are from the terrorists if they didn't listen to every single
call in order to sift out the evil doers?
When a senator discovers proof of the wiretapping and plans to go public, she becomes
expendable, but a pair of 13-year-old kids who have built their own spy machine might just
have the intelligence the government lacks to uncover the plot and save her life.
Speers weaves gracefully and seamlessly from character to character, from point of view
to point of view. From agents who lack intelligence in more ways than one, to a fast-
talking journalist who discovers the dollar could collapse at any moment, the dialogue is
believable and natural.
The novel is punctuated with stunning revelations, “Ah ha” moments that reveal which
characters are interrelated, which stories are happening at the same time, and even which
spies live in the same neighborhood.
Speers' style is easy to read, and just as the reader thinks he knows exactly where the story
is headed, Speers offers up some twists and turns and quite a few surprises that peel back
the inner secrets of a paranoid nation. And the funny thing is, it’s all based on fact.
The hidden jewel in this novel is the rendition of tools, technologies and weaponry that
most Americans don’t even know actually exists, not to mention the cutting edge
spookware that is so secret and so dangerous that even hinting at its existence could open
the doors to a scandal and uproar that would rock the very foundations of what Americans
used to call liberty.
In fact, even reading this book may occasion a knock on your door by Patriot Act
watchdogs since you may learn far more than certain people really want you to know. And
if the Patriot Act isn't sufficient to scare the pants off of you, better tighten your belt and
put a padlock on your buckle because Speers makes the case that the Military
Commissions Act of 2006 with its suspension of habeas corpus at the discretion of a
discredited President might just disappear both you and your pants.
Everyone can relate to this novel because it examines the issues every American faces
today. Sure to inspire a lot of laughs and head shaking, this book will amuse Democrats,
Republicans, conspiracy theorists, and any American who has ever thought twice about
how much power the people who actually run the country have over the people who are
supposed to run it.
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