*It should certainly be noted that when I first got this book from the library and glanced at it, that I thought Jack was charging into battle wearing a tank top. Which does sound like something he’d do.
*The book opens with a brief blurb about the history of the CTU. It was founded in response to the first WTC bombing in 1993. Despite rough treatment from other security agencies, CTU eventually established supremacy in the field of domestic terrorism.
*In response to 9/11, several early missions from the founding days of CTU were declassified.
*THIS IS ONE OF THOSE MISSIONS!! NAMES HAVE BEEN CHANGED TO PROTECT THE PERPETUALLY LATE!
*So, the novel opens with a two page prologue, wherein a plane blows up in the sky during transit from Alaska to LA.
*Wow, so a plane blowing up in the sky. Two pages in and the novel is already ripping off the show and I know it even though I’ve only seen one season.
*So, the first hour begins with Jack and an FBI agent named Ed Burchanel questioning someone named Ramin.
*This is kind of interesting actually. This Ramin supposedly helped move money around in preparation for the 93 WTC bombing and one of the major villainous characters in this book is Abdul Rahman Yasin, the only one of the WTC bombers who was never caught and tried.
*He may have been under arrest in Iraq since 1994 or he may have been living in luxury there, no one’s quite sure. He was last seen in an interview with Leslie Stahl in 2002 in Iraq, where he was supposedly under arrest.
*Anyway, this book posits him still a viable and active force in terrorism.
*So, anyway, Jack’s been working for the CIA at this point and he and Burchanel have sort of closed ranks on Ramin from opposite ends. They’ve both been working to try to find out if Yasin is trying to get back into America.
*Jack, being CIA, is of course not supposed to be carrying out domestic operations. So, yes, Jack essentially spends this entire book off the reservation. He is quite literally breaking the law at every moment of this book.
*Of course, now that the timeline has changed, there are two books that come before this. So, this is a continuity error, unless Jack worked for the CTU and then the CIA and then back to the CTU.
*Ramin lets slip that Yasin is back in the country already and that he’s planning something big for tomorrow night. Before he can tell them what it is, he blows up, killing Burchanel and sending Jack to the ground, ‘a thousand angry bees’ tearing his clothes.
*A thousand wut?
*Oh, GREAT. Kim!
*Yes, we join a game of Truth or Dare in progress at Janet York’s house at 6:14 PM.
*You know, as annoying as Kim was in Season One, I seriously think I am not going to enjoy reading about her as a thirteen year old.
*So, anyway, Kim asks this kid Aaron if anybody has touched his privates and he starts crying and runs out.
*God, I remember those carefree young teen days. Thank God they’re over.
*So, this fellow Christopher Henderson shows up at 6:19 as Jack is stumbling out of Ramin’s burning house and cops are arriving. Henderson’s the head of CTU or, I guess, actually he’s head of the LA Office, if I understand correctly. Henderson mentions that Richard Walsh has been trying to recruit Jack to CTU.
*At 6:28 PM, Kim finds Aaron outside crying on the curb and he reveals that he’s being molested by his priest.
*At 6:31 PM, a couple of folks named Michael and Gabriel talk on cellphones. They discuss Ramin’s death and wonder if he had time to tell the authorities anything before they killed him.
*At 6:35 PM, Henderson and Jack arrive back at CTU. The LA office has just made its first bust and they’re celebrating by drinking on the job and sitting on a blanket on the floor. What are they, five?
*So, Jamey Farrell is in this scene.
*So, anyway, CTU has busted three Arab-Americans with a crate of plastic explosives.
*Introduction of Ryan Chappelle berating the carpet picnickers.
*There’s a one line mention of George Mason, easily my favorite character from Season One. Here’s hoping he shows up in some of these books.
*So Jack and Chappelle, having known each other for something like two minutes immediately engage in a pissing contest about who has the most experience and who should actually handle the case of Yasin being back in the states.
*Henderson sends Jack off to get some coffee and Henderson and Chappelle share the following dialogue:
*CHAPPELLE: That’s the guy you wanted to bring in here? HENDERSON: Richard Walsh says he’s the best. We need him. CHAPPELLE: We need him like a hole in the head.
*So, at 7 PM, Jack finds his way to the break room. Okay, either that conversation with Chappelle was done at about the speed glaciers move or Jack’s been lost in the CTU hallways for like twenty minutes.
*He finds Nina Meyers in the break room.
*Line I can totally hear Kiefer Sutherland saying: NINA: It’s (the coffee) barely worth drinking. JACK: That’s okay. I just had a conversation barely worth having.
*Nina shows Jack the tape of the bust. He deduces from a shot of the plastic explosives case that several bricks are actually missing.
*On their way out to go the jail to question the three suspects, they pass a Diana Christie of the NTSB coming into CTU at 7:11 PM.
*This bit confused all hell out of me at first: “A moment later she marched determinedly toward the doors. The glass was dark, and she saw the reflection of a thin woman with dirty-blond hair, in a blue pantsuit, moving double-time. As she reached the glass doors, her image morphed into that of a tall blond man. He was on the far side of the door and he pushed it open, exiting just in front of a thin, short-haired woman with a determined look on her face.”
*It was like two pages later and I was like, “OH! That was Jack and Nina, I guess.”
*I also was like, “Why is everyone being so determined already?”
*It’s sort of cool to see CTU stripped down like this. When Chappelle takes Christie into a conference room to talk to her, he has to rip the plastic off a couple of the chairs in the room so they can sit.
*So, anyway, Diana Christie is there about that plane explosion from the prologue. She’s figured out that it was a bomb but she can’t get anyone to listen to her. Chappelle is no different.
* “We’re the Counter Terrorist Unit, Ms. Christie. We’re professionals. We don’t act on the impulse of one maverick agent.”
*Okay, they need to dial down the irony about twelve degrees.
*So, then, we cut to 7:17 PM and a Sheik Abdul al-Hassan talking to a Father Collins. They’re both in town for an “Interfaith Unity Conference.” Oh, this isn’t going to end well.
*We’re also introduced to a Rabbi Dan Bender. Having thus covered all the bases of people who’ll be reading this book, we mercifully cut away before the Buddhist procession or whatever.
*Abdul al-Hassan reveals he has a fundamentalist twin who would see the Interfaith Unity Conference as “an opportunity for martyrdom.”
*At 7:24 PM, Jack and Nina arrive at the Twin Towers Detention Center where the prisoners are being held. Jack goes in to question one of them and, not surprisingly, starts flinging him all over the table by his shirt front just about the time Ryan Chappelle enters to see what he’s doing.
*The prisoner remarks that the plastic explosive was given to him by “a friend.” Jack corrects him: “You don’t have any friends. All you have are the names I’m going to beat out of you.” First legitimate badass moment!
*So Ryan chews Jack out and tells him to stay away from the case, cause they’ve got it under control.
*And so Jack goes home at 7:55 PM and the book ends.
*Well, nah, I guess not.
*So, at 8 PM, Christopher Henderson is accosted by Chappelle who tells him to forget about Bauer because he’ll never work for CTU.
*In another sort ‘way back when’ moment, Henderson is making out work assignments on a notepad because his computer won’t boot up and CTU has no tech people on staff.
*At 8:08 PM, Jack meets Teri at a café. They discuss the offer to go to work for CTU. Teri thinks it’s a good idea as it’ll keep Jack closer to home.
*While at this café, Jack gets a call from a Harry Driscoll, a detective with LAPD, who says he has a lead on the plastic explosives.
*At 8:14, Aaron tries to tell his dad, Don, about the fact that he’s being molested by Father Frank. He can’t quite get it out, because his dad is watching Survivor and is somewhat distracted by a girl in a bikini.
*In another surprise, yet another real life historical figure shows up to play a massive part in the novel. This time, it’s Pope John Paul II. Yes, you heard me right. The Pope is a central character in this novel.
*The characterization of the Pope here is surprisingly sympathetic (or perhaps not). As we listen to his thoughts, we see him thinking about the needs of his body and the way that his physical condition keeps him humble as Christ was humble. “It is only the body” he reminds himself that is broken down, not the soul.
*The Pope talks to Cardinal Mulrooney about the Unity Conference. The Pope tweaks Mulrooney about the fact that he doesn’t really agree with the Pope’s plan for the Conference.
*Great bit of dialogue: MULROONEY: I do not see how we can make peace with our enemies. POPE: There is no point to making peace with our friends, Your Eminence.
*Anyway, Aaron slits his wrists in the bathtub. So, that’s grim.
*At 8:47 PM, Jack and Harry head out to question a mailman whose fingerprints were found inside the garage where the plastic explosive was.
*At 8:50, Michael and Gabriel meet in the lobby of a hotel. It’s revealed that Gabriel is indeed Yasin, the WTC bomber who got away. They share some nonspecific dialogue about what’s going to happen tomorrow and how glorious it’ll be and how they actually dislike each other intensely.
*At 8:57, Don, Aaron’s father, having seen the dead body of his son off in an ambulance with his wife along for the ride, breaks into Aaron’s room, finds his journal and discovers the motivation for Aaron’s suicide.
*The chapter ends with a nice bit of prose:
* “There was a journal on Aaron’s desk. Don Biehn the police officer picked up the journal and began to read. A few pages later, it was Don Biehn the father who knew that he was going to kill someone.”
*So, essentially nothing happens in this chapter of any import whatsoever until 9:16. At that point, Jack and Harry head out to see an old movie star named Mark Gelson.
*Okay, this is flippin’ hilarious. You gotta hear this crap. Let me sum it up.
*So Mark Gelson was in these movie series back in the eighties called Future Fighter; Gelson is this hero in a post-apocalyptic world. Gelson had a reputation for being a tough guy and was always getting into bar fights. His career has kind of hit the skids and he’s been pulled over for drunk driving just the night before. During that little run in with the law, Gelson started raving about how he was going to blow some stuff up and set some people straight with plastic explosives.
*Yeah, and his name is MARK GELSON.
*Subtlety, thy name is Whitman.
*So, anyway, Gelson tells Jack and Harry that he gave some money to some biker friends of his so THEY could buy some plastic explosives. Gelson claims not to know who they were buying from, but he directs Jack and Harry to his biker friends.
*At 9:33, Don Biehn breaks into the rectory at St. Monica’s, punches Father Frank in the throat, stands on his ankle, slaps him in the face, stabs him in the groin with an ink pen, curses just a WHOLE lot and then shoots Father Frank in the face.
*He also totally forgot to Mirandize him.
*For some reason we get three time breaks in this scene despite the fact that we don’t cut anywhere. It just randomly tells us what time it is at three points in the scene.
*So, Nina Meyers questions a random innocent Muslim, so that it won’t like this book is like racist or something.
*So, she’s trying to follow a lead on a guy named Abdul Ali, who went to the same mosque with the three suspects in custody. But she can’t seem to locate him.
*So, anyway, Jack meets a biker named Dog Smithies in a bar and, via some incredibly clumsy undercover work, he gets Dog to admit that he has some plastic explosive. Dog then takes Jack outside and starts punching his head off. Hmm, see, I said it was clumsy work.
*Also, Dog Smithies? I’m picturing a rough, tattooed biker with a monocle and an English accent.
*So, anyway, people sort of look at papers and drive around for a long time.
*Anyway, Harry and the LAPD SWAT come in and rescue Jack by nearly shooting him in the face and killing his witness.
*Luckily, while Dog was strangling Jack, he asked if it was Farrigan that sold him out. So Jack calls Henderson and conferences in with Chappelle to reveal his theory that Farrigan had the plastic explosive; he sold some of it to the three suspects in custody and some to Dog Smithies. If they can trace Farrigan, perhaps they can discover where the rest of the suspects’ plastic explosive went.
*Chappelle basically disavows Jack and says he has nothing to do with it.
*Hmm, wonder if that’ll ever happen again.
*Then we catch up to Don Biehn. Before he killed Father Frank, he got a couple of other names out of him and he’s trying to visit a certain Father Collins. Who, yes, just happens to be the same Father Collins we met last hour, chatting it up with Abdul al-Hassan a few hours ago.
*When Don Biehn tries to break into Collins’ house, however, somebody chloroforms him.
*He wakes up a bit later out by the oil wells, tied up by Michael. Michael breaks out the ol’ torture routine and starts cutting little bits and pieces off of Biehn all the while asking him why he was trying to kill Collins and what he knows about The Plan.
*Biehn is able to break free by dislocating all fifty of his fingers or something and headbutt Michael and run away into the darkness. And thus the hour ends with Don Biehn, vigilante and killer of pedophile priests, desperately wondering what exactly he’s gotten himself into.
*Nina brings up al-Qaeda when Jack returns to CTU. It is actually sort of chilling to think of all this happening, probably within about a year of the Twin Towers falling.
*Jack laments the lack of staff CTU has and Henderson mentions another guy he’s been trying to recruit by the name of Almeida. Also one of my favorite characters from season one. I mean, of course, right? I mean he was everyone’s favorite secondary, right? Of course, this is all totally out of continuity.
*It’s very interesting; Jack and Nina are alone together for a moment and Jack very pointedly brings up his wife when Nina starts to come on to him. Nina remarks that she noticed his ring, but does it really make a difference?
*Okay, yeah, my season one instincts about here were right on the money. Slut from day one. Literally day one.
*Brief scene of Father Collins, unable to sleep at his house because his arm hurts from a surgery he’s just had. He thinks about taking a Vicodin but then decides that if he’s going to be meeting the Pope, he’d rather not be drooling at the time.
*So Diana Christie from the NTSB finally hooks up with Jack and Nina and reveals that there’s been a mix-up in names.
*Nina’s been looking for a certain Abdul Ali, who attended the same mosque as the Sweetzer Three (those are the three guys they’ve arrested). Meanwhile, Diana Christie has figured out that the explosion on the Alaska flight originated in the seat of a certain Ali Abdul. Turns out they’re the same person. Ali Abdul is in fact Abdul Ali and Abdul Ali is Ali Abdul.
*Meanwhile, Harry Driscoll has taken the call about the murder of Father Frank at St. Monica’s Rectory. He finds Aaron Biehn’s journal, which Don Biehn has idiotically left behind.
*We catch up with Abdul al-Hassan chilling in his hotel room and listening to Julia Fordham. This, the book tells us, is haram since Abdul finds her voice sexually exciting and he likes to dream about her.
*Abdul is fairly certain that the Unity Conference will fail, but “to be called a cynic, a pessimist, a skeptic, would be a small price to pay if the powerful religions of the world could come together and forge peace now . . . ‘Maybe,’ he said.”
*So, then Abdul’s doorbell rings and he answers it to find his twin brother standing there with one arm in a sling and the other one shooting him in the head.
*More evidence for my ‘Happiness = not having an evil twin’ theory. There are other factors, but really once you don’t have an evil twin, you’re pretty well set for life.
*Anyway, it is rather nice to be rid of one of the myriad Abduls peppering this book. I hope that doesn’t sound racist, but seriously, three characters with the same name?
*Okay, so we now have two characters with their arms in slings. It is completely obvious to me that they’ve got bombs implanted in their arms. This is, I think, supposed to be shocking when it’s revealed some seven hours later.
*We are introduced to Giancarlo, the head of the Pope’s security detail, as he interrupts the Pope during prayer to inform him of the murder of Father Frank.
*I sort of loved this bit: “Among all the many, many layers of security that surrounded the Holy Father, Giancarlo was the last and greatest, save for God alone. Only divine grace lay closer to the Pope’s skin than Giancarlo Mettler.”
*Cardinal Mulrooney comes in after Giancarlo leaves to inform the Pope that the killing relates to ‘the Issue.’ The Pope cottons on: “This was one of the priests that was relocated?” “Twice, Your Holiness.”
*I found it rather chilling to be reading this, as I was, way back when I read it, just a couple of weeks after this horrible news broke, indicating that, in fact, the current Pope, Benedict, is very much aware of child abuse, and has been, in his various roles, since the late seventies, and did in fact take serious steps to impede and obstruct investigations of child abuse by anyone outside the Church.
*I’m not Catholic, but I am Christian. Still, I see no justification whatsoever, moral, religious, ethical or philosophical, for the decision to place the Catholic church and its ministers above civil law. The Bible I read, which is supposed to be the same one the Vatican reads, indicates that civil government is an institution of God to be respected, appreciated and obeyed.
*I think Catholicism, while not my brand of Christianity, has been responsible for some of the greatest art in human history. It’s very sad to realize that this obstruction of justice and disregard for the victims of abuse wasn’t just a case of a few bad apples, but was, in fact, an open policy from the highest levels of the Church. In a very real way, the Vatican didn’t just cover-up child abuse, but it actually institutionalized it. That is very, very sad from the basic human perspective and even more heartbreaking when you realize that these people were supposed to be representing Christ and His love to those in need.
*The enormity of this sin is astonishing. It’s as though they don’t even believe in God; how could you and commit these kinds of utterly despicable acts? I believe in God with all my heart; that is why I am so loath, frankly, to claim His name. God forbid I ever try to speak for Him or try to give His blessing to my personal preferences. And this goes far, far beyond personal preference; to imply that not only is child molestation something that shouldn’t be punished is horrific enough – to imply that this is what God believes is as damnable and evil a thing as I can possibly imagine. Argue that you have God’s blessing while aiding and abetting child molesters? I fear a great wake up call for some of these people when they actually face God.
*Well, that’s the most I’ve actually talked about the child molesting scandal in a very long time. This leaked letter from the Pope really upset me.
*So Jack and Diana Christie go to meet with Farrigan, the lead that Dog Smithies gave them before he died. Jack goes in under the name Stockton and they pressure the bartender at Dog Smithies’ bar to tell Farrigan that she’s seen Dog and Smithies together.
*Farrigan greets Jack at the door of his office with the classic greeting, “No use going in there. Ain’t even enough room to fart.”
*How much room does one need to fart exactly?
*Farrigan agrees to find Jack some plastic explosive and call him in an hour. Jack calls Chappelle to try to get a wire tap on Farrigan’s phone and Chappelle agrees, but says that the paperwork means they won’t get it in place until at least noon. Jack reacts about as you’d expect.
*Harry goes to arrest Don Biehn for the murder of Father Frank and finds him at home, cleaning himself up after his torture session with Michael. Don tells Harry that he wants to make a deal. It’s revealed here that Aaron is actually just in critical condition, not dead. Which makes this whole thing Biehn is doing even more reprehensible. He has a wife and son he needs to be with right now. Dimwit.
*Mulrooney talks to the Pope again and tells him that it’s necessary they move to stop the news about why Father Frank was killed from getting out. The Pope agrees and Mulrooney says he has a man who can handle it. That man is Michael.
*Michael tells Mulrooney that he’ll stop Don Biehn’s vendetta before it causes them any more trouble. He fails to explain that he had Don Biehn handcuffed and tied to an oil well, with three dislocated fingers and seven stab wounds and Biehn still managed to kick his ass and get away. Yeah, I wouldn’t bring that up either.
*So Harry brings Don Biehn to CTU and Don tells Jack that while Michael had him tied up he heard him talking on a cell phone and he can describe him, tell him what he said on the phone and what name he and his partner are using.
*One small catch. In return for this information, Don Biehn wants to be released and allowed to continue his swath of destruction through the Catholic priest population of L.A.
*You’d think Jack would be totally on board for that, but he’s not for some reason.
*Anyway, he says he’s willing to release Biehn, but he won’t let him keep killing the priests. Harry reacts with shock at this, but Jack says the clock is ticking and they need information quickly.
*There’s a scene of Nina doing some research and we get this fantastic paragraph:
* “Nina had gotten into fieldwork for the excitement, and there was plenty of that, but every moment in the field was back up by hours of research. She remembered something Victor had told her: Before you pull the trigger, you must know where to aim the gun.”
*It’s interesting. In a strictly chronological sense, there’s nothing there to indicate that Nina isn’t what she seems to be. She seems to be talking about joining CTU. But, if you’ve seen season one, you know the ‘fieldwork’ she’s talking about is actually her work as a double agent and you know exactly what Victor she’s talking about.
*So, at 1:30 PM, Jack takes a handcuffed Don Biehn to the house of a Father Dortmund. Jack’s talked Don into doing a confrontation thing instead of killing the priests. Jack is hopeful Don will still give him the information he needs if Jack helps him confront the guilty priests.
*So, Jack breaks into Father Dortmund’s house with Don in tow and let’s Don shout at Father Dortmund.
*Don dislocates his thumb and slips one hand out of the handcuffs and he uses the handcuff to crush Father Dortmund’s throat before Jack can stop him.
*And this is, I think, the best just total JACK BAUER MOMENT in this book. Jack can’t let Dortmund die or he’ll be on the hook for breaking protocol by bringing Don to Dortmund’s house.
*So, Jack . . . now – listen closely here.
*Jack grabs a BIC pin out of the bedside table, rips it open with his teeth, pulls out the plastic tube and then uses his pocketknife to do an emergency tracheotomy on the slowly strangling Dortmund.
*I mean, that’s just pure hilarity.
*And the chapter closes with Nina going to interview Abdul al-Hassan, not knowing that he’s been replaced by his twin Marwan.
*She eventually leaves, giving Marwan time to reflect on how she should be beaten for wearing such revealing clothing.
*So, rather than get a real hospital involved in the big mess he’s made, Jack has called Henderson to send over some CTU people to take care of Dortmund. They arrive, accompanied by Tony Almeida.
*Jack comments, “You haven’t even asked me what’s going on.” Tony responds, “My job’s to solve the problem, not slow down the solution with questions.”
*Boy, did he ever change.
*So, then Almeida and the paramedics leave. Tony vanishes from the book entirely. Essentially just a cameo.
*Don Biehn finally breaks down and starts weeping. Jack, realizing that the man has just discovered his son was molested for years by a trusted family friend, calls him a ‘fucking crybaby’ and tells him to save it. Rare compassion, Jack.
*Meanwhile, Farrigan calls back to set up a meeting with Jack. Since Jack is currently berating psychologically traumatized people and can’t be bothered, Henderson sends Diana Christie to meet Farrigan alone.
*Michael has gone to sleep, but he’s awakened by a call from somebody named Pembrook. Pembrook gives him the story about what’s happened to Dortmund and Michael realizes that Biehn is still a problem. He curses himself for not killing Biehn when he had the chance.
*So, Jack and Don arrive at St. Monica’s Cathedral where they go in to see Cardinal Mulrooney. The guards let them in, but then Biehn starts screaming at Mulrooney, asking him if he knew about the molestation and covered it up.
*At this point, the guards start trying to kill everybody in a fifty block radius or something.
*Anyway, there’s a brief gun battle; Don Biehn gets killed, but Jack gets away. Michael calls the police to tell them that Don Biehn broke in with a gun and had to be shot.
*Chappelle is a little peeved when he hears that Jack has shot up a Catholic church, killed three security guards, sent a priest to the hospital and gotten their only witness killed. By the way, he shouldn’t even be working domestically.
*Michael calls Yasin and tells him he thinks they should call off their big plans. Michael says he could take care of it right now, but Yasin tells him they have to push forward. It needs to happen publicly.
*Anyway, Jack gets back to CTU and discovers that Diana Christie got roughed by Farrigan at the appointment.
*Oh, jeez, her arm’s in a frigging sling. I wish they’d cool it with this stuff.
*Anyway, she says that Farrigan finally told her that the other buyers for the plastic explosive where some bikers out in the San Joaquin Valley.
*Harry Driscoll, doing a favor for Jack, digs up some dirt on Cardinal Mulrooney. He’s a Schismatic, a sect that feels that the true Catholic Church ended with Vatican II and that there hasn’t been a legitimate Pope since 1962.
*Jack, on his way to meet with Dean, the leader of the bikers Farrigan steered them toward, wrestles in his mind about taking the job with CTU.
*There’s a great little scene with Chappelle having a video conference with the Deputy Director of the NSA about CTU’s status.
*It ends with this great bit: “Chappelle’s fingers shook from the sudden adrenaline dump. He wasn’t out there dodging bullets or facing down international terrorists. But there were many kinds of unsung heroism, and some of the most important battles were fought in little beige rooms by men like Ryan Chappelle.”
*I work for the government in one of those thankless support positions. I agree.
*Harry Driscoll goes home and goes to bed, but he can’t sleep for thinking about Aaron Biehn. He grabs his coat and heads out.
*Then we’re introduced to an Amy Weiss, a reporter assigned to cover the Unity Conference as she prepares for her interview with the Pope.
*Jack, pretending to be Dog Smithies, meets with Dean. Dean says he heard Dog was a fat guy. Jack says his brother had a heart attack and so he decided to lose weight. Barny, another biker, asks Dean if they really want to do business with a guy who eats bean sprouts. Jack says, “Looks like every pound I lost was your gain, so shut the fuck up.”
*Then a woman staggers out of the back room and says that she knew Jack Kennedy and Jack Bauer is no . . . oh, no, wait, she says she knew Dog Smithies and Jack Bauer ain’t him.
*So, Jack decides to bluff his way out of it. We get a lot of witty banter along the lines of, “You’re way too good looking. If I’d screwed you, I’d remember it.” “Yeah, and I’d do my best to forget it.”
*Harry goes to question Father Collins and asks him point blank if he molested Aaron Biehn. Collins breaks down and says that he hasn’t, not for years. Harry arrests him.
*Then we get a couple of pages about the LA/Owens Valley Water War.
*Bear with me.
*By the way, everyone should definitely read Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water by Marc Reisner. It’s an astounding work of non-fiction that traces the Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers through their decades long rivalry, played out in the water politics of the American West. There’s an extended section specifically about LA, of course; all of the corruption, violence and such that went on back then over water is worthy of a political thriller. And, of course, it was that history that inspired Polanski’s Chinatown, one of my top ten films.
*But the whole book is great. Really, I can’t explain to you how wonderful it is. I laughed out loud five or six times to a chapter. In the chapter on Floyd Dominy, it was quite a bit more than that. But it’s also an incredible, gripping drama: corruption, murder, deathbed reconciliations, dam collapses, massive death, incompetence. It’s better than a lot of novels you’ll find. So, read it. Seriously. It’s a great, great book.
*So, anyway, Dean and his bikers are going to blow up Castaic Dam because Dean is still mad about his grandfather’s farm being destroyed in the Owens Valley Water War, which is about the goofiest subplot I’ve ever heard.
*Nina decides, based on the fact that Jack seems to like Diana Christie more than her, that Diana Christie must be a double agent or something. It’s rather hilarious to see Nina letting personal jealousy motivate her and, of all things, motivate her to accuse someone else of being a spy.
*So, anyway Dean reveals that he knows Jack is a cop. He has Barny rig up a brick of plastic explosive on Jack’s back. If he hits send on his cellphone, Jack blows up. He then sends Jack to set up all the bombs along the dam.
*Harry is, having been stuck in traffic, still in transit back to CTU with Father Collins. Michael and Pembrook arrive, run him off the road and start a gun fight.
*Nina arrives at Farrigan’s warehouse and sees Diana Christie’s car outside. She sneaks inside and is able to see Christie talking to Farrigan but she can’t really hear what they’re saying.
*Meanwhile, Father Collins gets shot in the gun battle. Michael tells Pembrook to get the body, but Harry drives them back with gunfire. Michael and Pembrook flee the scene at the sound of sirens approaching.
*Finally, as 6 AM approaches, Jack finishes planting the bombs along the dam and Dean directs Barny to “dump him in the reservoir.”
*And we are at the half point. Twelve hours Jack’s been flagrantly breaking every law in the books.
*Okay, so there’s this big fight and Jack manages to get the cellphone away from Barny, but not before Barny has triggered the bombs on the dam. Jack has five minutes to defuse the bombs.
*The bikers have, luckily, all run away, so Jack is able to do it, but about the time he finishes, they all come tearing back, but they miss him because he’s hiding so anyway, he drops his last brick of explosive on the back of Dean’s bike and then tears off on his own. They chase him and he blows them all up.
*I am overjoyed, mainly because I won’t have to keep misspelling ‘Barney.’ What an idiot.
*And this chapter closes with a scene of the Pope meeting with all his cardinals. They all urge him to cancel the Unity Conference because of the murders that have been taking place. The Pope ends the chapter in prayer, alone with his bodyguard Giancarlo. As the clock edges to 7 AM, he opens his eyes and vows to go forward.
*Okay, so Jack actually thinks that Dean was the other buyer. He doesn’t quite get the whole connection with St. Monica’s. He calls Teri and, after swinging by CTU, heads home for breakfast with the family and then to bed.
*Harry Driscoll, however, is still uneasy. He can’t figure out why the gunmen who killed Father Collins wanted the body. He orders a rush on the autopsy.
*Jamey Farrell, meanwhile, pulls out her calculus book and starts to figure out if any plastic explosive is still missing or not.
*Jack returns home and has a brief scene with Teri. Then Teri has to go in the bathroom because Kim is throwing a fit about a pimple.
*Seriously, she does know that one of her friends slashed his wrists because he had been repeatedly raped by his priest over the past two years? She does know that, right?
*Yes, Teri confirms that she does know it. Oh, Kim, you horrible, horrible person.
*So, Jack lays down on the couch to take a nap and his phone rings.
*Anybody remember that old W.C. Fields movie, It's a Gift? Probably not. It’s hysterical and barely over an hour. Watch it; it’s got this hilarious sequence where the whole thing is that Fields is just trying to take a nap. It must go for fifteen minutes, each interruption more hilarious than the last.
*Anyway, the call is Jamey; ten pounds of plastic explosive are still missing.
*Meanwhile, Rabbi Dan Bender, who I had actually completely forgotten about, writes an e-mail to his brother in Israel. He apologizes for what he’s going to have to do today and hopes his brother will understand.
*Anyway, Jack and Harry track down the license plate of the car that shot at Harry and start on a little thing that has no other purpose than to eat up some pages. They find out the car is registered to a Bas Holcomb and they visit his landscaping business.
*It’s odd; this book definitely feels stretched, like they’re often reaching for stuff to put in to keep people busy for the whole 24 hours. Making things harder than they should be, you know.
*Another scene of Chappelle in a video conference. In this one, he’s eventually cornered into admitting that Jack saved the Castaic Dam singlehandedly and, in order to save face, he forces himself to say that he’s trying to recruit Jack.
*Nina, meanwhile, is being kind of snippy about this whole Diana Christie thing since Jack didn’t believe her when she tried to tell him about it. She goes to Diana Christie’s house and when she tries to talk to Christie, Christie decides to explode in her face.
*Meanwhile, Michael visits Cardinal Mulrooney and tells him that he’d better excuse himself from the Unity Conference about as soon as he gets there. Mulrooney is a little shocked and scared; he asks if Michael is going to do something, but Michael demurs, simply telling him again to excuse himself quickly and not hang about the place.
*Or else he really will be hanging about the place. Har.
* “Have you . . . are you going to do something?” “Not me, Your Eminence. But a thing will be done.”
*We then cut to Mark Gelson being visited by his agent. At this point, I began to lose patience with the book.
*Anyway, during this conversation it’s revealed that Gelson is, in fact, a schismatic.
*So, anyway, this chapter becomes incredibly obnoxious with the cross cutting. It cuts to five different scenes, at one point, across just two pages and one of them is just more of Chappelle video conferencing, which has nothing to do with the other stuff. One of the others, frankly, is just Jack driving. Which . . . why?
*Well, I suppose, they’re trying for a laugh because at one point, they cut directly from Chappelle saying that CTU always adheres to the law to Jack using his gunsight to score lines in a prisoner’s forehead.
*So, Jack beats Farrigan up, Nina survives the explosion, Chappelle sort of sweats a lot, Harry pressures the coroner’s office and, as this hour ends, he calls Jack to come to the autopsy bay immediately.
*The Unity Conference is beginning at the Four Seasons Hotel. Guests are filing in, including Marwan al-Hassan. He sets off a metal detector but is let through since he has a plate in his arm.
*I confess I laughed out loud at this next bit:
* “’Can you believe the security here?’” said a woman who appeared suddenly beside him. Marwan al-Hassan knew immediately that this was a Jew.”
*Oh, yeah, the ol’ Jewdar. Not quite as necessary as the Gaydar, but every bit as effective.
*Meanwhile, a body is found wrapped in a tarp beside the highway. More on this later.
*So, anyway, yeah, there’s a bomb in Father Collins’ arm. As there is one also in Marwan al-Hassan’s obviously. And obviously, also one planted in Diana Christie when she went to the meeting with Farrigan alone.
*Everyone is just stunned, just stunned, at this. Except of course, we, the reader, who figured this out about eight o’clock last night.
*Rabbi Bender and Marwan share a moment of thinly veiled hatred over a potted plant as they await the arrival of the Pope.
*So, anyway, they figure out that Abdul Ali (or was it Ali Abdul) was supposed to be the backup, but his bomb accidentally went off in transit, causing the plane explosion. They quickly grabbed Father Collins and implanted the bomb in him, though without his knowledge.
*Yeah, right, apparently they just told him he was in a car crash and had to have surgery. Uh huh.
*So, this is why Michael had to grab Don Biehn when he tried to break into Collins’ house and why he had to go after Harry when he arrested Collins. Also, of course, why he wanted the body.
*Also, Farrigan had figured out that Jack and Diana Christie weren’t on the level, so when Diana Christie came back to her meeting, they drugged her and implanted a bomb, to force her to give CTU the decoy lead about Dean and his bikers.
*I just . . . wait . . . huh . . .
*So, they also figure out that the doctor who supposedly operated on Collins’ arm was actually in the Poconos or something like that when it happened. So, they discover that the mailman from way back in like chapter three or whatever actually went to med school.
*Jack heads out to the Unity Conference. Nina heads out to find Gary Khalid, the postman/highly skilled surgeon/terrorist. I head out to get a stiff drink, still reeling from the sudden realization that the MAILMAN is a frigging surgeon. Come ON!
*The Pope arrives at the Unity Conference. Mulrooney shakes his hand and then runs screaming like a little girl for the exit.
*Jack and Harry get to The Four Seasons and meet up with Giancarlo. They try to convince Giancarlo to pull the Pope out of the building, but Giancarlo is adamant that he must obey his orders. Harry Driscoll calls the Pope a “fucking martyr” and is strangely not struck by lightning.
*Anyway, there’s a heck of a lot of cross cutting here because you know they need some tension. Anyway, long story shorting all this, here’s what happens.
*Nina catches Gary Khalid at the Sweetzer Ave. house and she breaks his ankle.
*The police finally call CTU with the ID on the dead body, which is, of course, Abdul al-Hassan. Jamey, after totally slacking for a few minutes, finally calls Jack with this information.
*Jack and Giancarlo locate Marwan al-Hassan only a few steps away from the Pope. Jack decides that the best option is to grab Marwan and leap off the balcony with him. Michael tries to blow Marwan up, but the two of them have fallen into a swimming pool before he can do so. Marwan blows up and gives Jack a concussion.
*Giancarlo gets the Pope to a safe room with some more guards. None of them notice that Rabbi Dan Bender has slipped in with them.
*Jack pulls himself out of the pool, well aware that there’s going to be a third bomber somewhere because of the title of the book he’s in.
*Jamey calls him to tell him that Rabbi Dan Bender doesn’t actually really exist.
*Jack and Harry catch up to Giancarlo and the Pope at the rear of the Four Seasons getting ready to load up in their caravan. Bender is with them. Giancarlo tries to thank Bauer for his help but Bauer is already leapfrogging over him to start punching the Rabbi in the head about fifty times.
*Giancarlo and his people spirit the Pope away. Bender reveals that he’s Mossad, there for the same reason Jack is, to try to stop the assassination.
*Nina ‘questions’ Khalid by kicking him in his broken ankle for about twenty minutes.
*He reveals that the third bomber was an American. He doesn’t know a name.
*Giancarlo and the Pope arrive back at St. Monica’s where Michael meets them. Michael assures them that the facility is secure, except for that unnamed person sneaking in the back door.
*The Pope confronts Cardinal Mulrooney about his Schismatic beliefs.
* “How will we help if we are at war within ourselves?” “I was not there, Your Holiness, but I was told the bomber was a Muslim, not a Catholic.” “He was neither. Whatever he was . . . he was not a man of God. Men of God reject violence. That will be all, Your Eminence.”
*So, Michael goes around slaughtering the Swiss Guards. And then the Pope, alone in the chapel, looks up to see Mark Gelson sitting in a pew, smiling at him.
*Cue massive huge gunfight in the chapel. Giancarlo takes a bullet for the Pope and Dan Bender gets shot down as well. Jack and Harry manage to take down a couple of the attacking security men.
*There’s a nice scene of Cardinal Mulrooney in his bedroom, hands over ears, trying not to hear the gunfire, trying not to know what’s happening.
*Harry Driscoll gets shot down, but approaching sirens cause Michael and Mark Gelson to retreat.
*There’s a hilarious bit of dialogue where Jack keeps beating himself up for having been fooled all day and shunted onto false leads. Nina keeps trying to get him to understand that he saved THE POPE FOR GOD’S SAKE.
*A recurring motif has had Harry Driscoll hesitating on different doorsteps throughout the night. He hesitates on the doorstep of Don Biehn because he doesn’t want to arrest another cop. He does the same on Father Collins’ doorstep because he hates to confront a priest about molestation, being a Catholic himself.
*Each time, he’s forced himself to continue by thinking to himself, “I’m a cop. This is my job.”
*So, we get a great, quite evocative moment as he slips into death. The paramedics fade out of his vision and he sees a door, growing nearer and nearer.
* “Doors open; we move through them. That was how life worked. Though his eyes were closed, Driscoll saw a new door appear before him. When it first appeared, Harry was filled with dread. He did not want to approach it. But the door came inexorably closer, and the nearer it came, the less Harry feared it. It was, after all, only a door; and Harry was a detective. Opening doors was his job.”
*Actually, just typing that here, I got a little chill. I quite loved that.
*Jack is chafing, wishing there was some way he could bring Mulrooney down for his part in the whole affair. He thinks of a way and then his phone rings. Through the transmitter in Mark Gelson’s arm, CTU has tracked Michael and Gelson.
*Michael and Gelson have arrived at Yasin’s hideout. Yasin is not particularly thrilled to see them.
*Amy Weiss, the reporter, who has had a couple of inconsequential scenes since she was introduced, shows up at St. Monica’s. A police officer gives her a bag Jack left for her. Inside it is Aaron Biehn’s journal. This would be Jack’s revenge on Mulrooney.
*So, Jack and Nina arrive at Yasin’s hideout and burst through the door firing. Jack pursues Michael upstairs and the two come to grips. Jack gets his gun in Michael’s neck and Michael says, “I thought God was on my side.”
*TOTALLY FRIGGING AWESOME JACK BAUER BEING AWESOME MOMENT ALERT!
* MICHAEL: I thought God was on my side. JACK: Everybody thinks that. *blows Michael’s head off*
*Meanwhile Nina gets tackled by Yasin after her gun jams, but she manages to strip his gun away from him and shoot him in the face twice.
*Okay, so, this is the problem with using real people. You can’t kill them if they aren’t dead. Or so I had thought.
*Yasin was confirmed as alive in Iraq as late as 2002; this book takes place seven years after the first WTC bombing and before 9/11, which puts it in 2000. He might be dead now, but he certainly didn’t die in the US in this fashion. In this universe, anything goes, I guess.
*A shame. I was wondering how they’d let him get away.
*Gelson grabs Nina and puts her gun to his head, but Jack comes down and distracts him long enough for Nina to disarm him and put him down, unconscious.
*Henderson arrives to find Jack sitting on the curb outside Yasin’s hideout in an explicit mirror of their first meeting a little less than 24 hours previously.
*Henderson remarks that after a day like this, he understands why Jack won’t sign on with CTU. Jack responds: “I’m signing on.”
*When Henderson asks why, Jack talks about how the bad guys had them jumping through hoops all day, chasing false leads and such and how Jack himself thought the case was finished at least twice before it was. If it hadn’t been for Don Biehn, Jack says, they wouldn’t connected up with the Unity Conference at all.
*Frankly, Jack says, CIA, FBI, CTU, none of them are really ready for a serious terrorist threat. But Jack wants in with CTU to build an agency from the ground up and make an agency ready.
*Just, he says, “Promise me there won’t be any more days like this.”
*So, the book?
*Well, I enjoyed it okay. It felt a little scattered to me and some stuff was purely filler. Also, Whitman isn’t a very good writer; from his blurb I see he also wrote the Star Wars Galaxy of Fear books way back when. Most of the time, his prose is pretty flat and occasionally even sloppy. Also, it leaned a little heavy on the irony.
*I did like seeing a sort of stripped down, not very high tech CTU, as well as meeting people like Tony, Chappelle, Nina and Jamey for the first time. The action sequences were fairly well written.
*I also liked some things I didn’t anticipate liking. The characterization of Pope John Paul II is sympathetic and interesting for its humanism. Giancarlo was a great secondary character and the way the book dealt with religion was at least interesting.
*Perhaps the most ludicrous part of the book was the Mel Gibson-esque character, Mark Gelson. Gibson has certainly taken a lot of flack for his traditionalist Catholic views. To date, he has not repudiated Vatican II or the current Pope, as far as I know, and acquaintances have stated that he is not a Schismatic. Frankly, given Gibson’s propensity for saying exactly what he thinks (“My ass is only for shitting”), I rather doubt that he would have bothered keeping the fact that he’s a Schismatic a secret.
*Hopefully, Marc Cerasini is a better writer or this is going to be kind of a slog.
** out of **** stars.
*Next time, it’s our first comic as Jack does one last job for the CIA. That’s right, it’s Nightfall, which places us two years away from the show!