Reign in Hell

William Diehl
Ballantine, 1997
ISBN: 0-345-41144-7

review by Harriet Klausner

The President has decided it is time to stop the Sanctuary of the Lord and the Wrath of God, a paramilitary organization disguised as a religious movement. The group is run by a former war hero and religious fanatic, General (R) Engstrom, who has a personal grudge against the president that dates back to their service time in Nam. His group advocates the overthrow of the American government by violent means. They are a force of six thousand hard core soldiers, daily growing stronger, and possess state of the art weapons.

The President believes that the time has come to diffuse the threat by rendering the enemy impotent. His weapon of choice is the Ricco Statutes and the Attorney General of Illinois, Martin Vail, and his staff, affectionately known as the "Wild Bunch" are selected to pull the trigger. Marty and his team use all their resources to link Engstrom to the Sanctuary and eventually to the militia movement. However, he is unaware that his old enemy, Aaron Stampler, thought to be dead, is a key participant in the Sanctuary movement. Aaron plans to get even with Marty for what the man did to him.

Primal Fear was a brilliant thriller that most readers considered to be William Diehl's best novel and impossible to top. Reign in Hell, shockingly, is even better because its scope is wider, focusing on national social issues. Building on the fear and outrage inspired by Ruby Ridge, Waco, and Oklahoma City, Mr. Diehl guides his readers deeply into the essence of the cult-like militia movement and the dilemma facing the federal government: To use force to stop the movement and alienate many moderate conservatives, or to ignore the movement until it may prove too late.

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