Chapter by Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
Look, I understand not wanting your heroes to be perfect, but so far only one person at Op-Center is someone I would want to spend time with, never mind trust with my safety. Everyone wants either the head man’s job, or the head man. Paul’s the only character at the center I like. The other two heroes in Korea I’m rooting for but one of them is in bad shape. I’m kind of curious to see how they end up saving things if at all, because at the moment I’m only rooting for them because I don’t want to see a second Korean war, even in a fictional universe. We still have a little less than two-thirds of the book left to change my mind though. And this week it’s going to take four chapters to fill in the count.
- Chapter 27: Tuesday, 9:55 PM, Seoul: 4 pages
- Chapter 28: Tuesday, 7:57 AM, Op-Center: 2 whole pages
- Chapter 29: still Tuesday, 10:00 PM, Seoul: 3 pages
- Chapter 30: day before Wednesday, 8:05 AM, Op-Center: 4 pages
At this point I’m having to entertain myself. I’m kind of wishing the book would stay in Seoul, have Paul show up to manage things there, and leave the rest of the cast besides Paul’s family and the actual special-ops team to blow in the wind. Will these four win me over?
We start this group with Eyepatch (yes, I’m convinced it’s the same guy after this chapter) coming in to meet with the US general that Gregory is eating with. So the plot gets thicker, and it appears Eyepatch, now given the name Kim Lee, a major for the South Korean army (How many more Kims are there in this story?), is part or maybe even in charge of a plot to resume the Korean war, or at least keep unification from every happening. That kind of ruins the mystery but this wasn’t a mystery story after all. He’s not happy that Gregory and our other Kim, whom I’ll be referring to as Hwan now to keep them apart, and I’ll keep calling Eyepatch for clarity, is not so convinced and he’s planning to make it look like the North attacked Hwan. So it’s another one of those villains, the ones who are so convinced their right that they’ll fake the worst case scenario to prove it. In this continuity North Korea appears to be softening, which is definitely not what they’re doing in our world, and Eyepatch and friends are causing death for their own people and calling it saving lives. Well, I found someone to dislike more than our alleged heroes, and it only took fanaticism to do it. That’s not a positive.
The next chapter is really just a distraction. President Laurence calls Paul to see how his son is doing, reminding us of the sacrifice he’s currently making. Apparently he’s not doing well and the doctors can’t figure out why. I feel for him because I’ve been there too often the past few years between my mom and myself. I’m not sure if the concern for Paul’s son is genuine but it is understandable that he’s worried about the Korean situation right now. He gives Paul an out and Paul’s been considering it but when he’s finally asked he decides he’s needed here. This is why Paul Hood is the only likable character at Op-Center and it’s sad to hear he doesn’t stay throughout the franchise.
Meanwhile, Hwan continues his investigation. There’s an awful lot of worldbuilding in this book, and a lot of it thus far seems more flavor text than anything tied to the story. For example, we learn that Hwan’s boss likes to get information by talking to people, including a dinner with members of the press he gets along with, while Hwan doesn’t trust people’s recollections (if they’re even truthful) and prefers the scientific method. And yet neither question the perspective of the other, both options are valid in their own way, which already puts them one over Paul and Liz’s opinions of each other’s methods. Again, the South Korean group are more interesting and likable…and they’re the ones with traitors in their midst looking to start a war. Hwan gets a call from someone visiting the offices claiming they saw the bombers. Whether this is Eyepatch’s group working fast or a good break we’ll have to wait to find out about.
Instead, it’s back to Op-Center. If I didn’t dislike these guys so much I would say it works to go back and forth between the two locations important to the story. Op-Center is trying to gather Intel until the ops team arrives while the KCIA is understandably handling the bulk of the actual investigation. However, the satellite images are showing the North moving in. Paul’s suggestion is they’re just flexing and wondering how the President will respond so they don’t appear weak, but Bob Herbert thinks the President should be prepping for payback. Herbert lost his legs in the 1983 bombing my “Moslem” forces. All I could find, and this would have to be a typo or a dropped spelling, is Muslim extremists running a series of bombings in Beruit, tied to Hezbollah. It would explain Herbert’s rather hardline attitude towards the use of force and why he doesn’t like politicians, including the folks at the UN, and even Paul. I still don’t agree with him, but at least it isn’t someone after the chief’s job or just wanting someone who will kiss their behinds. the chapter, and this set of chapters, ends with a spy plane picking something up that they rush back to alert the good guys.
What did they see? What’s going to happen to the good Kim? Will Paul’s son make it? Is anybody besides Kim Hwan focused on the actual mission and not the fate of a loved one or taking someone else’s position? And can Eyepatch’s plan be stopped before it’s too late? We’ll see if any of those questions can be answered next time.