Maddy is shell-shocked from not having the resources or trust to pursue leads that warned of 9/11, and now there are hints that a new major terrorist attack is getting developed. Furthermore , her horrible narcissistic mother has moved in with her and is driving her crazy.
The office politics are extremely plausible. The viewpoint of a terrorist not so much, and I have a tentative theory about why. The thing is, we get told about his miserable background and his ideological motivations (credit goes to the author for not including 72 virgins), but it seems generic. My experience is that people have something of a personal relationship with their ideologies-- they know who's influenced them and even if they're not involved in faction fights, they at least know more about the divisions than any but the most dedicated outsiders have ever heard of. All of that is missing.
The gender stuff is interesting, and I'm curious about what you guys think of this bit: All hell has broken loose in a way that involves the death of some children (I'm not calling this a spoiler-- anything resembling a normal novel which has an imminent terrorist attack will have a terrorist attack), and the female analysts are full of shock, horror, and rage. One of the male analysts is humming the Andy Griffith theme song, and a woman asks him how he can be happy. (From memory)--he says "This is the great war of my generation, and this is the front line. How can I want to be anywhere else?".
On the whole, I liked the book with a couple of caveats. All the fat characters are obnoxious. As might be expected, there is a coercive interrogation which is of a hateworthy person, produces reliable information, and has no unwanted side effects.
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