Dick Wolf, creator of the “Law & Order” television phenomenon, has jumped to writing for print (and e-reader screens) with “The Intercept.”
He isn’t overreaching.
Wolf’s first novel is tightly organized, fast-moving and totally of the moment. New York City has recovered from the attacks of 2001 but has not forgotten them. Its police department has its own anti-terror unit, and this is its story.
Not surprisingly, “The Intercept” is cinematic in style, reading much like a well-annotated script. There are no interior monologues here. Even when telling us what his (many) characters are thinking, Wolf does it from the omniscient narrator perspective. Motives, hopes and dreams remain in the background.
There will be time for those later. Right now, Detective Jeremy Fisk of the NYPD Intelligence Division, his colleagues (one of them his secret lover) and the FBI are busy unraveling a terrorist plot with enough threads to weave a small Persian rug.
Osama bin Laden may be dead, but his influence lives on. A plane is nearly hijacked by a man intent on crashing it into downtown Manhattan. Thwarted by quick-acting passengers, the attacker easily caves in under questioning, his answers leaving Fisk suspicious that there is much more to this story than their suspect is telling.
Probably much more than the clumsy hijacker – a mere pawn – even knows.
Wolf is adept at building a narrative with quick shifts of scenes for TV, and that expertise pays off here. We have the cops, the terrorists, the heroic passengers – now elevated to celebrity status – and constantly shifting threats and targets.
For Fisk, it is one, long, plastic-explosive filled version of deadly Whack-a-Mole, when every victory leads to even more questions, and even more potential for disaster. The more pieces of the puzzle they gather, the more it doesn’t add up.
Regular viewers of television police procedurals may guess early on what is really happening here – having the benefit of seeing from the narrator’s seat – but even those who are dead-on right likely will enjoy the twists Wolf tosses in before the action-packed final scenes, er, chapters.
The book’s cover promotes the “Law & Order” connection; the author’s name, in huge type for all his TV fans; the title and, in smaller type, the words “A Jeremy Fisk Novel,” indicating a promise of more to come.
This guy Wolf could have a real future.
By Dick Wolf
387 pages; $27.99
Melinda Miller is features editor at The News.