An Accident Man Novel
344 pages. Brief prologue and epilogue present the real-world facts around which the fictional story is told. Brief acknowledgements section.
(This is apparently volume two in a series that begins with The Accident Man.)
The novel begins with a botched assassination attempt against billionaire Texan global arms smuggler McCabe, by rogue British agent Samuel Carver. Then it fast-forwards: McCabe, finding religion after his escape from death, has become obsessed with triggering Armageddon and meeting his Savior before dying of terminal cancer. Aiding him without understanding the ultimate plan is retired U.S. General Vermulen, on the trail of a Soviet-era suitcase nuke.
Meanwhile, Carver was driven insane while rescuing his Russian lover and ex-spy Alix from the grip of a Russian spymaster. Now, Carver seems incurable, Alix is out of funds to finance his medical care, and the Russian spymaster's widow has plans of her own...
That's basically the set-up for this fast-paced action-and-espionage tale, eventually involving Russian, British and American intelligence services, Georgian criminals, a Serbian chieftain, jets, cars, helicopters, assassinations and explosions, and a tragic love triangle.
I had a hard time "getting into" this novel. The only character I felt any interest in was the beautiful but aging "honey trap," Alix, deeply in love with Carver yet manipulated by forces outside her control. The "new" Russian spymaster, the widow Olga, is cold-blooded and ruthless in an entertaining way, working with narrowed budgets and limited resources. But for some reason I couldn't "connect" with Carver, and so had a hard time caring if he overcame his challenges, saved the world, and got his girl back.
The author (who is British) also shows a lack of understanding when writing about American politics, incoherently mixing up Republicans, Conservatives, and Christian Fundamentalists when trying to explain McCabe's background. The author also stumbles by trying to simultaneously present McCabe as a brilliant villain, yet making the religious fundamentalists look "as dumb as rocks."
The novel is fast-paced with lots of action, so I'm a little at a loss to explain why I found most of it so boring. Finally - at about the two-thirds point - the plot caught fire and I thoroughly enjoyed the last part.
Wargamers should find several of the action scenes inspirational for modern skirmish gaming.
There is one howler of a typo, involving a "grieving window."
Grudgingly recommended. (It might make a better movie than a novel.)
Reviewed by Editor in Chief Bill .