REVIEWED BY DAVID M. KINCHEN
Who is more dangerous: A native born American bent on revenge or a foreigner engaged in a similar act of terrorist?
It’s a question with no definite black or white answer, but I’d put my money on George Haddan, the protagonist of “Death Watch” (Motivational Press, 300 pages, $16.95, available from Amazon.com in print and in a $7.99 Kindle edition), a techno thriller by Michael Sedge and Joel Jacobs.
Following a format established by Frederick Forsyth in “The Day of the Jackal”, the authors present us with a fully fleshed out character in George Haddan. He’s a former American DELTA Force commando who is seeking revenge for the death of his mother, which he blames on the U.S.
Haddan left the military and became a free-lance hitman. His knowledge of languages and customs helps him function seamlessly in Italy, Germany and throughout the Middle East. He funds a German scientist who manages to isolate and concentrate the deadly Ebola virus. Instead of targeting a few dozen people, Haddan’s goal is to kill everybody on the USS George Washington, an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean.
The authors have a front-of-the-book disclaimer saying that “Death Watch” is a work of fiction and that as far as science knows, Ebola is not an airborne virus, and is transmitted by direct contact with an infected victim and/or carrier. The disclaimer says that the method of spreading the virus throughout the ship is “to enhance the overall storyline.”
On the trail of Haddan is Jason Blake, Special Agent, Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS), as he tracks Haddan through Europe, Africa, and abroad the aircraft carrier USS George Washington. It’s a plight that puts the U.S. Navy against itself as the crew combats a deadly outbreak of ebola, making the ship a floating “hot zone” in the Mediterranean Sea.
Blake’s role reminded me again of the 1973 film version of “The Day of the Jackal” directed by Fred Zinnemann (one of my all-time favorite movies, by the way!). Blake’s counterpart in the film is French cop Lebel, played brilliantly by Michael Lonsdale.
Continuing this comparison of “Death Watch” with “The Day of the Jackal”, Sedge and Jacobs populate their book with believable characters, both on the aircraft carrier and in Europe and Africa. This, I believe, makes their work superior to authors who present us with cardboard-cutout one-dimensional people. Some of the characters in “Death Watch” — especially those on board the carrier — may seem a bit over the top, but with 6,000 Navy personnel on the carrier, over the top is probably normal!
If you’re seeking a thriller that combines elements of Clancy and Forsyth, “Death Watch” is a good choice. I read it in one sitting and was impressed with the writing. I think it’s safe to say that George Haddan will make his presence felt in another book by Sedge and Jacobs.
About the Authors:
Michael Sedge is an American journalist, author, marketing specialist, and entrepreneur. He founded the marketing company Strawberry Media and co-founded the U.S. small business, Michael-Bruno, LLC, which offers architectural design, engineering services, and construction management to the U.S. government in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Sedge was born in Flint, Michigan, and graduated with a Bachelor of History and Government from University of La Verne in La Verne, California. In 1973 Sedge started his service in the United States Navy, and was soon assigned to Southern Italy for what was meant to be a 48 month stay. He was assigned to diverse locales in Europe until 1977. Eventually Sedge, who also speaks Italian, took up permanent residence in Naples, Italy to pursue writing, journalism, and ultimately as an international businessman. His non-fiction book, “The Lost Ships of Pisa”, won the President of the Italian Republic’s Book of the Year Award for a Foreign Author and the “Rusticcello di Pisa” International Journalism Award from the city of Pisa.
For David M. Kinchen’s April 6, 2014 review of Michael Sedge’s “The Oracle”: http://www.huntingtonnews.net/85463
Joel Jacobs, an East Texas native, studied journalism and photography at Northwestern University and Syracuse University. He served 20 plus years in the Navy and is the former editor of “The World of Beer” out of Milan, Italy. As he puts it, “I’ve watched the sun come up and go down over 58 countries on five continents.” He lives just outside of Commerce, Texas, a university town that has more students (10,000) than its regular population of 9,000.