BOOK REVIEW: THE BLUE ZONE
The United States Marshall’s agency that controls the Witness Protection Program is called WITSEC. This program oversees all those in the program and is divided into three names or zones; the Red Zone for those in protective custody or while in prison and/or on trial; the Green Zone when all members of the family are safe in hiding under new identities in a new location; and the Blue Zone when it is thought that one in the WITSEC program has been compromised and are in danger and has been lost or unaccounted for. The Blue Zone is the area not wanted at any time by the authorities.
Benjamin Raab has secrets that are unknown to any in his family. To that family, he is a great husband and father and does all he can do that lets his family think just that way. In reality, Raab has been dabbling in the sale of gold that he knows deep down is being done outside the law but his own mind justifies it, thus allowing him to keep his family believing that he is a well-off and loving family member. When one day he is suddenly arrested and carted off to prison, his family thinks it is all a huge mistake. Their husband/father would never break the law to hurt anyone, especially his family.
Raab’s daughter, Kate, who is foremost in the story, works as a lab researcher at a college. She is known as a very smart and beautiful woman. Raab denied any wrong doing during his FBI interrogation, justifying his actions as simple, but large, mostly gold transactions that he had sold to law abiding individuals and corporations. One question led to another and when certain names were mentioned, Raab started to think deeply about those transactions fully knowing that some of them were a bit above the law. They had him!
His family still felt he had done no wrong. A father and husband that was so good to his wife, Sharon, and the children, Emily, Justin, and Kate, that he could have done no wrong. Even when Benjamin admitted his part in some transactions to the authorities, his family would not believe he was a part of any law breaking activities such as the money laundering that was a part of his accusations.
The entire family was in danger due to the connections that the former transactions were connected to including cartels and mafia groups. Kate insisted that she would not go into witness protection since she was about to marry Greg and she did not want to uproot their lives. So Kate stays behind while the rest of the family goes into the WITSEC program with all of them knowing there could be no connection between Kate and the rest of her family. Their names would be changed along with everything in their normal lives. Emily was a star squash player and had risen to near the top of her game and now had to leave that great part of her life and attempt to start over somewhere else.
From here the story gets even more active as those wanting to find Benjamin Raab to get him and what they felt he owed them, no matter how they could. The family was safe, or so the WITSEC program thought, but in reality, bad people have their own ways to find what they want and those ways include any family member or friends they could intimidate. The search for those threatening Kate and the “hidden” family takes many twists and turns taking the reader on a very good suspenseful ride with uncertain destinations and actions on the next page.
Andrew Gross has collaborated with James Patterson for several books, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed. There is no plot certainty in the books written by either of these writers, individually or together. They know how to stretch out suspense to keep you turning the pages and not wanting to stop. Andrew Gross has accomplished this in The Blue Zone in his first of, what I truly hope, a long line of great suspense stories.
REVIEWED BY CY HILTERMAN
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