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By Order of the President
By W.E.B. Griffin

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By Order Of The President

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By Order Of The President
By W.E.B. Griffin
Thorndike Press - Large Print Edition (2005)
ISBN: 0-7862-7183-3
Genre: Mystery, Military Adventure

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - February 4, 2005

By Order of the President is a page turning mystery by W.E.B. Griffin that is impossible to put down! This book was my first introduction to Griffin, so I cannot compare this to his other books. However, based on this book alone, I'm looking forward to going back and reading his previous work. The title of the book comes from the assignment given to Major Carlos Guillermo "Charley" Castillo by the President of the United States. When a Lease-Aire 727 is apparently stolen from Angola, the intelligence community goes into high gear trying to determine if the plane was indeed stolen and if so, was it done so for some nefarious purpose such as, in the post 9/11 world, crashing it into an embassy or such. Castillo is tasked by the President to conduct an internal review of all the American intelligence agencies in order to determine who knew what, and when. To help him along, the National Security Advisor, Natalie Cohen issues an order that all the agencies are to send Castillo all their reports, raw data, and other pertinent material. This internal review is deemed necessary by the president in order to ferret out how interoffice rivalries and interagency bickering might be sabotaging the intelligence efforts of the United States.

When it becomes clear that the plane was hijacked, what began as a simple internal review, soon grows into a full-fledge hunt for the missing aircraft, led by Castillo himself. Castillo's investigation leads him to a rouge FBI agent and a Russian Arms dealer who seems to have better intelligence resources than the United States, and who is very anxious to help the American's find the missing plane, if for no other reason than to prove he did not steal it.

Castillo is aided in his investigation by an old friend, Major H. Richard Miller, Jr., who just happened to see the airplane being hijacked and by Sergeant Betty Schneider, a police officer working in the Philadelphia Organized Crime and Intelligence Unit. Unfortunately for Miller, who was in Angola working as the CIA stations chief, he has fallen afoul of the CIA Regional Director of Southwest Africa. The Director, Mrs. Patricia Davies Wilson, has hurt feelings. Miller stepped on her bureaucratic toe so she's decided to retaliate by destroying Miller's career. Schneider, on her part, is a hard working and intelligent police officer who also serves as a tantalizing and somewhat out-of-reach love interest for a man whose code name is Don Juan. In part, this is because Schneider has an overly protective brother who has made it very clear that he will be happy to break both of Castillo's legs if he ever touches Betty.

By Order of the President is a fast pace, although not an 'edge of your seat' story. What it is, rather, is a complex and well-wrought mystery that is wonderfully played out and which is full of engaging, realistic characters that easily carry the story from beginning to end. The protagonist of this story, Castillo, is a complicated individual - on several fronts. He is the love child of a Tex-Mex helicopter pilot who died heroically in Vietnam and a German newspaper heiress. Raised primarily in Germany, he moved to the United States with a large, loving and wealthy Tex-Mex family when his mother died. He's a linguist, Delta Force Special Forces solider and Army intelligence officer, a graduate of West Point, a skilled pilot, a veteran of Desert Storm, and the aid to the Director of Homeland Security. He also just happens to be young, handsome, intelligent, and a man who knows his way intimately around a woman's body. He is also a bit arrogant, and rightfully so. In short he's a man who knows how to get a job done, and is willing to do whatever it takes to get it done - and when he can't do it alone, he's man enough to ask for help. He is also a man who is somewhat confused over who he really is - or wants to be.

Although this could be classed as a techno-thriller, the technological aspects of the story take a backseat to the interpersonal relationships and the basic mystery that Castillo is trying to solve. Nonetheless, there are detailed descriptions of military hardware, explanations of military hierarchy, analysis of interdepartmental rivalries between the various intelligence agencies and military divisions, and, of course, weaponry.

By Order of the President has made me an instant Griffin fan. This book is not only entertaining, but also timely. This book starts in the very near future - May 2005 and many of the issues addressed concerning the flow of intelligence information between the various government agencies and the inter agencies 'turf' wars that exist are all too real. As Griffin points out, it only takes one or two people with their own agenda, hurt feeling, or grudge to unintentionally cause a lapse in security that could result in an intelligence breech similar to that which may have occurred on 9/11. The only aspect of this book that I did not like is that Griffin jumps around in time on a few occasions, mostly to fill in Castillo's back story. He does, however, provide a header, before each scene change that notes the location, time, date, and other pertinent information that enables the reader to keep this labyrinthine story in context. A must read for Griffin fans, as well as anyone interested in reading an excellent military-based mystery.

Current books in the Presidential Agent Series:
  1. By Order of The President
  2. The Hostage
  3. The Hunters

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