Written by David Darracott — A shadowy conspiracy lurks behind the scenes. A lone reporter seeks to expose it. As the sinister cabal consolidates power and advances with their plans, our scrappy journalistic hero doggedly pursues the truth, for he is the only one who can. No-one else knows the danger that is building in the shadow of collective indifference. But the intrepid reporter refuses to give up until the conspiracy is revealed… or he pays the ultimate price.
This plot has been used many times, and had its heyday in the 1970s political conspiracy movies, when the Vietnam War and Watergate pushed Americans’ trust in government to all-time lows. David Darracott’s Internal Security continues in this frightening vein, though he draws on more recent events to present a solid, if far-fetched, thriller that once again has America on the brink of chaos.
The hero of Internal Security is Tom Darden, who reports for for a small radio news outlet when a bomb explodes at a hotel during Spring Break in Daytona Beach, Florida. While investigating the dubious details, Darden meets Linda Ramsey, a paramedic who helps him get information and falls quickly in love with his tenacious will. Darden’s editor, however, is less enamoured with the reporter’s stubbornness. Tom Darden is sent to Iraq to keep him from prying into the bombing in Daytona.
Try as he might, Darden’s editor can’t keep him from digging into such a wide-ranging conspiracy. The reporter discovers ongoing torture while in Iraq, and barely escapes torture himself through the intervention of the State Department. Darden escapes military sadism in Iraq, but comes home determined to prove that terrorism at home and torture abroad are linked.
While Tom Darden searches for answers, the conspiracy ramps up and gains momentum. Led by a power-hungry Washington official who is only ever referred to as ‘the War Hawk’ and who resembles former vice president Dick Cheney, the cabal plans to jail and torture all political opponents in the interest of security. Under the euphemistic banner of ‘taking the gloves off’, powerful politicians and financiers bankroll militia groups and plan to use them as footsoldiers once martial law is in place.
Nick Darden becomes a marked man when he begins to expose the plans of the War Hawk and his allies. Will Linda’s help be enough to keep him alive? As the War Hawk accelerates plans for a coup d’etat, Darden must survive right-wing paramilitaries, government assassins and torture at the hands of one of the plan’s architects.
Internal Security ultimately proves a mixed, though enjoyable, bag. Characters are not real, believable people as much as they are cutouts which reflect the author’s political views. It is not at all clear why most characters take the actions they do, or why some parts of the government line up behind the War Hawk when other parts actively oppose him. There is little personality or strategy to motivate characters’ actions. All we are left with is the impression that the characters who oppose the conspiracy are noble, while those who support it do so because they are evil. What’s more, conspiracy theories are hardly novel these days. With each national tragedy over the past decade or so – like 9/11, the Sandy Hook school shooting or the Boston Marathon bombing – various political factions have blamed their political opponents or some part of the US government.
Darracott’s thriller may strain credulity and suffer from a dearth of subtlety. But if you agree with, or can look past, the polemics, then Internal Security is a solid tale. Darden is a compelling, if sanctimonious, protagonist, and you will want to find out if he succeeds. The author does a very good job of releasing details slowly and keeping readers in suspense as he sprinkles hints and then reveals details about the plot in due course. Darracott never lets the plot get bogged down, and the propulsive storyline will keep you turning the pages of Internal Security.
CFL Rating: 3 Stars