The Golden Hour by Todd Moss is a thriller about a coup d'état in Mali. Protagonist Judd Ryker is an academic who has been appointed to a new, special unit in the Department of State, the Crisis Reaction Unit. The idea being to ensure that the United States Government responds quickly and effectively to crises beyond its borders. In Mali, the kidnapping of a Peace Corps volunteer adds to the drama. Can the coup in Mali be reversed? Does diplomacy stand a chance? This a classic suspense novel; it's not surprising that it became a national bestseller.
Moss, who spent a couple years working at the State Department's Bureau of African Affairs during George W. Bush's administration, does a nice job of describing the American foreign policy bureaucracy - and a lot of it is not pretty. Amidst terrorism, political volatility, drug trafficking and espionage, the reader is also treated to infighting, turf wars, deception and more. The only downside to the breakneck pace of the story is the fact that there's hardly any time to explain the psychological or emotional aspects of working under pressure in these types of environments. Nonetheless, the relentless drama and Moss's smooth writing more than make up for the book's lack of character development, which seems to be a common shortcoming in many thrillers.
In essence, this is a very impressive debut novel. Moss has written an exciting book - a true page-turner that also provides insights into the complexities of Washington's diplomatic efforts during moments of crisis. I'm already looking forward to the sequel, which is scheduled to be released in September.