Never by Ken Follett 2021

In case January 6th, the Supreme Court, global warming, and COVID aren’t keeping you up at night, you should read ‘Never’ to add one more existential crisis to your insomnia ‘Greatest Hits’ list.

Follett has been writing international intrigue novels for decades, and this one is likely to be one his biggest sellers.  It’s an 800 page marathon that starts fast and never lets up.  He manages to weave four separate story lines each filled with vivid characters and tense story lines into an explosive (and I do mean, EXPLOSIVE) book which kept me reading and anxious for several days until I managed to breathlessly finish it.

As a younger man, I had read all of Robert Ludlum’s books about foreign agents and intrigue but had not read Follett, and I’m glad a friend recommended I do so.  It’s impossible to describe the various plots without numerous spoiler alerts but enough to say that it has all the up-to-date elements for a great story including some steamy sex scenes.  A woman President of the US who is being attacked from the right by a Trump-oid jerk, a Chinese intelligence director trying to navigate between the hard-liners and the younger generation, an undercover agent in Chad trying to trace a cocaine shipment and find the head of a radical Islamist terror group, a coup in North Korea,  and on and on.  Follett weaves his magic quite well, but if you’re looking for happy endings, skip this one.

In the months before COVID struck, Lawrence Wright wrote a book about a pandemic entitled ‘The Last Day in October’ that was frighteningly prescient, and tragically, most of his plot elements turned out to be spot on.  One can only hope that Follett’s creation remains fiction and Never never comes to pass.