The new master of the political thriller, A. M. Khalifa storms the thriller scene with his debut novel, Terminal Rage.
When a mysterious man besieges an office tower in Manhattan, he threatens to execute his hostages and unleash terror if his demands are not met. He informs the authorities he will only communicate with Alexander Blackwell, a former FBI hostage negotiator whose stellar career had ended abruptly a few years before.
The FBI tracks Blackwell down on a tiny Caribbean island and he reluctantly agrees to negotiate with the suspect. As the clock ticks fast to the deadline, Blackwell soon realizes the only way to save the hostages and prevent catastrophe is to figure out who this enigmatic hostage-taker really is, and why he asked for him by name. But what he discovers is a chilling global conspiracy at the highest levels of government that threatens to destroy his life all over again.
Terminal Rage is an explosive novel set in the post 9/11 world, where terrorism is no longer defined by who the terrorists are, but the sophistication and impunity by which they operate.
There is plenty of sex and violence in Terminal Rage, but it never crosses the line into being gratuitous. In fact, there is little unnecessary information in the story line, allowing it to move along quickly while keeping the plot points clear.
The drama is set against the backdrop of a decade’s worth of unrest in Egypt and the current aftermath of the fall of Mubarak. The action takes place all over the world—in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia—and spans from 2005 through the present day. Although the novel jumps around in time and place, headings at the beginning of each chapter designate the date and location of the events following, successfully avoiding any confusion.
Khalifa manages to pull off something that is often difficult to do in the crime-thriller genre—he keeps the novel unpredictable and lays out a plot so twisted that the puzzle picture morphs as more pieces are added. Though the lack of information about Khalifa makes him seem as enigmatic as the villain in his book, his writing speaks for itself. The mixture of clear, concise action, out-of-the-box characters, global settings, and didn’t-see-that-coming twists creates a craving for more when the last page is turned.
The plot twists in Khalifa’s thriller are dizzying, intricate, and entertaining. Alexander Blackwell, a former FBI agent haunted by his past, is pressed back into service when the enigmatic leader of a terrorist group takes control of a Manhattan skyscraper. But the hostage situation in New York is just the beginning, as Blackwell and the Feds must contend with the kidnapping of a powerful senator’s daughter and demands for the release of two men convicted of bombing an Egyptian resort. The negotiations with the post-Mubarak generalship and the description of the Egyptian prison are among the best set pieces of the book, displaying a wry grasp of Egyptian mores and deft pacing. The clever plot twist that turns this novel from a hostage drama to a byzantine account of staggering theft and calculated revenge is appealing.
Terminal Rage by A.M. Khalifa is one of those novels that make me wonder where the author has been before now. He starts out grabbing the reader by the throat in the beginning of the story and not letting go until the very last page. Exhausted but satisfied from such an excellent read, I look forward to more from Khalifa. I like the way the stakes continue to grow with each scene; just when you think it can’t get worse, it does. This author has obviously done his research on the topic of terrorism, explosives, and all the other hair-raising elements of this story. Once word-of-mouth publicity gets a foothold in literary circles, I think book sales will soar. Great job!
As a former FBI executive with 25 years service I can say that Terminal Rage is right on target as a suspenseful, surprising, true to life novel. Obviously the author conducted accurate research and that combined with his experience and terrific creative style made for a super story. Well done!
A.M. Khalifa is a critically acclaimed author based between Rome and Los Angeles. He writes up-market political thrillers and literary fiction focusing on niche international stories that breach cultural taboos and provoke dialogue on sensitive issues. His debut novel, Terminal Rage, was described by Publishers Weekly as “dizzying, intricate, and entertaining,” while Foreword magazine gave it a glowing five stars. Having lived, worked or studied in over fifteen countries, Khalifa is fluent in four languages.