Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Dick Wolf Thrills With The Intercept

Dick Wolf will probably always be associated with the television franchise he created: Law & Order. This television series and its spin-offs made a fortune, with story lines that revolve around sex crimes and homicides.

The characters had minimal back stories. And although the series won several Emmys, it was formulaic if not predictable. It was also highly successful.

Maybe that is why watching Wolf's work unfold for print instead of the small screen is so interesting. Sure, he previously wrote Law & Order Crime Scenes, a nonfiction companion to the show. But his new novel, The Intercept,  truly marks his debut as an author.

The Intercept, A Jeremy Fisk Novel is a Dick Wolf debut. 

There has never been any question that Wolf is an outstanding storyteller. The question is does his storytelling ability hold up in a novel? Yes, it does.

In The Intercept, Wolf trades in sex crimes for terrorism and to excellent effect. The scenario finds the United States just days before July 4 at the much-anticipated dedication of One World Trade Center at Ground Zero.

The ceremony of such an occasion is a pivotal moment in history, recognizing what has passed as well as the resilience of the American spirit. But unfortunately, there is something else percolating beneath the seemingly upbeat vibe in New York City.

Six passengers and crew members are attempting to take down a would-be hijacker on a commercial flight from Stockholm bound for New York City. These six, or "The Six" as these brave passengers and crew come to be dubbed by the media, are a focal point. They are immediately thrust into the international spotlight as heroes, becoming instant celebrities.

Nothing is ever as it seems to be with Wolf.

NYPD detective Jeremy Fisk, who is assigned to the NYPD Intelligence Division, is part of an elite anti-terror unit not dissimilar to the CIA. His job is to investigate the hijacking, which seems pretty routine. Except, things are not nearly as clear cut as they seem.

Despite all the fanfare, the would-be hijacker was nothing more than a pawn in a very complicated game. There is something much larger in the works and Fisk has to figure it out.

He doesn't have to do it alone. One of the other detectives assigned to the case is Krina Gersten, with whom Fisk is having a secret romantic relationship. She gives Wolf more breathing room too, toggling the action back and forth from Fisk to Gersten.

Still, Fisk, who is fluent in Arabic and not afraid to break the rules, is the apparent lead in the investigation where nothing makes sense. There are holes in every security system that the terrorists know how to exploit. There is a Saudi national who disappeared in Manhattan. And there is a bomb plot directed by none other than Osama bin Laden before his death, one that is suspected to take place on the same day as the dedication.

With several action-driven plots to drive his story forward, Wolf only provides minimal back stories for Fisk and Gersten, much like he did for Law & Order. However, that is not to say he skipped their stories entirely. As a novelist, he does provide a few tidbits to make them personable in what is otherwise best described as a tightly-wound thriller, well paced to sustain interest while keeping everyone guessing who or what is the real target.

A bit about author Dick Wolf.

The 65-year-old Wolf began his career as an advertising copywriter who churned out screenplays in his spare time. Like many people in his field, he dreamed about a career in the film industry.

Eventually, he landed a job as a staff writer on Hill Street Blues and then parlayed that into supervising producer on the television series Miami Vice. A few years later, he created a runaway success with Law & Order.

The series was the longest-running scripted show in television history and earned Wolf a number of awards, including two Emmys. Although the original Law & Order went off the air after 20 seasons, don’t worry about Wolf. The Montecito, Calif., resident is still #54 on the Forbes Celebrity 100 list with Law& Order reruns to look forward to. Even more interesting is a stellar start to his off-screen career.

The Intercept By Dick Wolf Thrills With 8.7 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

There is a lot more to Wolf than the series that kept him busy for more than 20 years. His newest character, Jeremy Fisk, makes a engaging and smart start to a terrorist crimes series that will provide him with more flexibility than he ever had on a television show. In fact, many people will find The Intercept is hard to put down as Wolf proves his writing is as crisp and compelling as ever.

The Intercept: A Jeremy Fisk Novel is available today (Dec. 26) at Amazon and the novel can be picked up on Barnes & Noble. The Intercept is also available from iBooks before the new year.

This review is based on an advanced copy of the book from Harper Collins. An audio version of the book is also expected for release, but was not available at the time this review was published.
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