Never (by Ken Follett)

The story is so captivating and relevant to present events. The characters are well-developed, and you feel like you know them personally. Ken Follett is a masterful storyteller, and I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a thrilling story with an ending that is thoroughly plausible and a wake-up call to presidents and country leaders.

The book is over 800 pages long – not unusual for Ken Follett! The plot does not lag and the tension builds as events unfold. It is amazing how small events can escalate into a full-blown crisis. There is a conflict in Chad and the neighbouring countries are deemed responsible. China is very influential in Africa, and the Americans (CIA) are wary of China’s growing tentacles across the continent. The CIA is trying to help Chad, and tackle Jihadi terrorist groups who are based in Chad. Who is funding these groups? The Jihadi are raising massive funds from drug running and gold mining!

The story follows a number of characters in Chad, the US, and China. In Chad. Each character thread knits together a complex sequence of events that ramps up pressure on the major world powers. In the Sahara, a CIA agent is following the trail of the drug runners and trying to discover the Jihadi leader. Another CIA agent in Chad gets romantically involved with a French agent and they are trying to help the Chad president who is a wildcard! In the States, we follow the US President who has an errant husband. Across the world, we are introduced to a young senior member of the Communist Party who is vying for the top position in the Intelligence department.  Tensions are already at a high level between North and South Korea. The Supreme Leader (N Korea) is fighting to hold onto power, and the S Korean president has committed to reuniting both countries.

Follett uses these character threads to explain how governments react to world events. A small error of judgment can have catastrophic consequences. As events unfold the pressures mount to respond by the major powers. But how without causing a Nuclear War between China and the US?

Unfortunately, a very plausible story that shows how delicate the political situation is. It really does not take much to tip the balance into a full-blown crisis. A great read.

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