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Book Review: 'Countdown to Mecca' by Michael Savage
Countdown to Mecca by Michael Savage is the third and final book in the Jack Hatfield series. The book "Countdown to Mecca" is a spectacular conclusion to a character's novels that rival Jack Bauer of "24" or Tom Clancy's novels.
Note: I do not give any spoilers to the book itself in this review.
Points in Favor of the Novel Countdown to Mecca
None of the characters is a trope, despite the opportunity to do so. The Russian call girl isn't a manipulative bitch nor a spy in disguise. The mobster has better ethics than some of the government officials, while plot twists that reveal the mobster’s true identity are not a complete blindside nor given away by subtle hints. Likewise, the bad guy isn't a purely evil bad guy; he's planning what he is planning for strategic reasons and for what he sees as the better good of the American people; the general in charge of the Countdown to Mecca wants to save us from a more costly (in lives and money) longer Jihad / war with Islam, one the Muslims are already fighting around the globe but which Americans routinely write off as a never ending series of lone wolf and rogue attacks.
The plot is fast paced, both in the action and the revelations. All of the pieces of the mystery are revealed to the reader, without the incredible convoluted logic that some stories use or jumping to the butler doing it.
Politics are gently woven into the novel, a few sentences here and there that explain a character's motivations or thoughts without turning into a lecture for the reader.
This novel provides relatively simple explanations of nuclear technology, political relationships and other areas that are an educational read for anyone interested in all the ways terrorists could strike and the technology and capabilities they already have. And it does so without reading like a story built around a survivalist book, a la James Wesley Rawles books.
The heroes get the girls, but without the gratuitous hot and heavy sex but subtle hints of intimacy, and Michael Savage builds their relationships without the "He saved me, I must have sex with him the moment we are alone" tropes that are too common in modern novels.
Mr. Savage can clearly communicate his ideas and story in a dense but readable fashion. I enjoy the fact that such an intense story is told in less than 350 pages. Too many other authors would take twice as many pages to do less with the story.
The ending has a delicious sense of irony, regarding who averts disaster in the Middle East, but it may be lost on many readers if they aren't familiar with the politics of the region.
Strikes Against the Novel Countdown to Mecca
I regret that this is the last of the Jack Hatfield books by Michael Savage, though it is probably better that the novels end in a neat conclusion than a drawn out series that loses its steam and quality by book seven.
The threat Islamicists pose is clearly communicated to the reader and well known to Mr. Savage’s radio show audience, but it becomes repetitive by the middle of the book.
Observations About Countdown to Mecca
Jack Hatfield is an investigative journalist and hero who has saved San Francisco repeatedly, while being ignored by local officials and demonized by too many. The books are the classic story type of "society turns against the hero", making the victory in the novel a tragedy of sorts, though many lives are saved.
I suspect that Jack Hatfield's outcast voice of truth from the wilderness is a reflection of Michael Savage's view of himself, though with more excitement and adventure than Mr. Savage himself sees. However, Mr. Savage is similarly condemned and outcast in real life as Mr. Savage, kicked off his 1990s TV show for politically incorrect views as well as banned in Britain to politically balance the bans of several Muslim firebrands. In short, they banned Mr. Savage, a conservative Jew, from entering England to balance the mostly Muslim hate preachers and revolutionaries.
Likewise, Mr. Savage's balanced criticism of many conservatives for refusing to truly take on unlawful acts of tyranny and judicial activism has seen him banished from Fox News. That he is so often right and regularly insightful as to the reasons why things happen is irrelevant - the conservatives on Fox are almost as bad at banishing those who don't toe the party line as the liberals are on every other channel. Jack Hatfield’s complaints of being sidelined despite being right in his research and conclusions likely mirrors Mr. Savage’s own feelings in his treatment in real life. Unlike Jack Hatfield’s fictional career, Mr. Savage has had a successful one, though thoroughly snubbed; for example, his book “Countdown to Mecca” sold 5,060 copies in the first week, better than four books on the May 2015 New York Times best seller’s list, but wasn’t included in the fiction best seller’s category.
Countdown to Mecca is a five star action and adventure novel by political commentator Michael Savage. This final novel in the Jack Hatfield series reads as a final adventure for the character, a baleful warning before it is too late and final farewell by the author who has stated he won't write more fiction and likely won't bother with non-fiction as well.