24: Declassified
Veto Power

Author: John Whitman
Pocket Books
RRP 6.99
ISBN 1 4165 1170 9
Available 05 December 2005

The next twenty-four hours will be critical to America's survival. A determined band of terrorists holds the key to bringing down the government by plunging the country into darkness, fear and chaos - a nightmare born not in a distant enemy land... but rather in the heart of America itself.
After a mission gone bad, Counter Terrorist Unit operative Jack Baur is relegated to infiltrating a dangerous home-grown militia group - and stumbles upon information about an activated sleeper cell of Middle Eastern terrorists on American soil. But the roots of the insidious threat may go deeper than he suspects, firmly planted in the lies and treacheries of powerful government agencies. And without the trust and support of his CTU superiors, Jack may have to rely on the very fanatics he's sworn to destroy... or face an earth-shattering catastrophe at the end of the day...

Veto Power is the second book in the 24: Declassified series that I've read. Not only is it a fantastic 24 universe story, but it is also a masterclass in how to produce a well written thriller.

Author John Whitman isn't afraid to get his hands a little dirty. He really attempts to illustrate the evil side of the villains, as well as the unethical aspect to the way that CTU operatives go about getting the job done. When Baur first meets Farrah, one of the short lived villains, there is no doubt in the readers mind that he is insane. The description of how he deals with unloyal employees just shies from overstepping the mark. And, when Baur finally disposes of him, the resulting bloody mess is handled like just another day at the office for the CTU operative - which is exactly as it should be.

The 24-hour format is twisted a little here, as the events at the start of the book occur years before the main novel. To be honest I don't know why they don't allow the authors to drop the whole idea of basing each book over a 24-hour time period - stretched across 24 chapters. Yes, I know that's the whole point of the show (hence the title) but with the books the writers should be allowed to pace their stories over a longer time period if they want.

There is also a clever (almost anti-American) dig at the way governments like to introduce legislation to protect it's public - legislation that ends up taking away the freedom of the people it's trying to protect.

I also loved the way that this book tackles the fact that Jack has had no sleep for 24 hours and how he is thinking to himself that he hopes he never has to do this again.

At the end of the day Whitman has written an engaging and intelligent novel that will keep you hanging on his every word. Fans of the show are being spoilt.

Pete Boomer

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