Recommendation: Meh, it’s a thriller, it’s not terrible
Where to read: Mindless gym reading, right here
Read with: A Corona I reckon
In brief: It’s like a spy thriller, but not absurd… who’da thunk it.
This is the rare of an example of a thriller that doesn’t seem patently absurd – there aren’t any outrageous action scenes where tanks get flipped across viaducts, no one gets shot somewhere moderately fatal and survives anyway and there’s no secret quasi-government engaging in a conspiracy to launch the nukes and unleash WWIII. I obviously don’t have any authority on the veracity of the tradecraft but it feels like it’d be accurate and that’s verisimilitude at least.
The biggest issue is pacing. It kind of hums along with low level action sequences scattered throughout but it never feels like it’s building to anything. It’s the antitheses of Matthew Reilly really – instead of starting at 100 and staying there, it starts at about 20 and doesn’t move once in 400 (ish) pages.
There also isn’t really enough mystery about the bad guys. The primary antagonist (the IRA) is exceedingly obvious right from the start (as in the first chapter) and while there is something of a twist at the end, it’s not enough of a pay off to make up for the general lack of mystery.
If you’re looking for a workmanlike thriller, this’ll do the trick – just be aware that “explosive first mission” is hyperbole.
Bye for now, I’m going to go and rewatch the excellent Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan for the third time.