Book Review: A True American Patriot: A Novel

By Daniel O’Connor/Permuted Press

Reviewed by Kenneth Dekleva

The Reviewer – Dr. Kenneth Dekleva served is a former Regional Medical Officer/Psychiatrist with the U.S. Dept. of State and is currently Professor of Psychiatry and Director, Psychiatry-Medicine Integration, UT Southwestern Medical Center. He is also a Senior Fellow at the George H.W. Bush Foundation for US-China Relations and author of the novel The Negotiator’s Cross.  The views expressed are his own and do not represent the U.S. Government, the U.S. Dept. of State, or UT Southwestern Medical Center.

REVIEW — Daniel O’Connor is a retired senior CIA official, who served as chief of security to multiple CIA Directors.  His book, A True American Patriot: A Novel, is an excellent thriller, filled with action, tension, and geopolitical intrigue.

O’Connor’s debut espionage thriller starts off with a bang – an assassination attempt in the UAE – and the story never lets up from there.  The narrative has a steady, non-stop operational tempo, driven by the adventures of ‘Doc’ and ‘the Professor.’ 

The novel likely draws upon the author’s vast experience as a senior security CIA officer to multiple CIA directors and has characteristics of an action thriller – a cross between the works of Admiral James Stavridis, Robert Ludlum, and similar tales of derring-do. 

Parts of the story feel eerily contemporary and as a result, a bit too realistic; it has terrorist attacks, assassinations, coups, and threats involving Weapons of Mass Destruction.  The author has an excellent feel for today’s adversaries – Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, ISIS, and al-Qaeda – and he definitely knows the terrain.

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The main protagonists – ‘Doc’ and ‘the Professor’ – are equally fascinating.  Doc is a mixture of a Secret Service agent and CIA paramilitary officer, with a background of service to the nation – and to the Professor – going back several decades.  He is an action hero type of character, and his skills, devotion, service, and patriotism shine throughout the novel.  His story reminded me of the 140 stars etched on CIA’s revered Wall of Honor. 

The Professor is a different breed of individual.  He is extraordinarily gifted in math, physics, exotic foreign languages, and diplomacy.  He’s a person who moves easily and gracefully in the halls of power around the world, respected both by the President, his adversaries, and most of all, by his friend and protector, Doc.  Their missions and travels throughout the novel give the reader a sense of realism.  The novel ends on a bang, and it held my interest throughout. While Doc exhibited courage and a penchant for action, I found the Professor to be even more intriguing. 

There are numerous well-known historical precedents for such larger than life, talented intelligence officers, diplomats, and ambassadors-at-large, both in America and in other countries, among both our allies and adversaries.  One need only think of the roles played by America’s Robert Murphy during WWII (Diplomat Among Warriors), Winston Churchill’s WWII emissary to President Roosevelt, William Stevenson (Man Called Intrepid), Miles Copeland Jr., one of the founders of the CIA (Without Cloak or Dagger: The Truth About the New Espionage), LT General Vernon Walters, advisor, interpreter to eight American Presidents (Silent Missions), or today, CIA Director William Burns (The Back Channel) in carrying out their most delicate and secretive diplomacy.  In Russia, one might think of the exploits of the late Yevgeny Primakov (Russia and the Arabs), or KGB General Ivan Agayants, whose WWII exploits were immortalized in the Soviet-era thriller movie ‘Tehran-43.’  In Israel, the roles of the late David Kimche (known as ‘Mr. Africa’) or the late Uri Lubrani (architect of the legendary 1991 airlift of 15,000 Beta Israel from Ethiopia to the Promised Land) come to mind.

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If O’Connor’s novel has a fault, it lies in the sparsity of character development of both Doc and the Professor.  The are tantalizing hints throughout, even more so at the end but this only left me wishing for more.  While readers enjoy their actions and missions, others may wish for more background and a sense of who they are, and how they became those characters and the roles which they inhabit.  Hopefully future sequels will bring these aspects of Doc and the Professor even more to the forefront.

Overall, O’Connor has written a thrilling, fast-paced espionage/action novel, which takes the reader on the many adventures and daring missions of two “true American patriots”.  One can only hope for even more in O’Connor’s future writings.

A True American Patriot earns an impressive 3.5 out of 4 trench coats.

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