Reviewed by Ian Lipke
This is the third in Chris Ryan’s Strike Back series and maintains the level of the other two. The plot is not much different. In this case, a washed-up middle-aged man renews a friendship with an ex-colleague for the purpose of monetary gain. He has an explosive document that purports to show the newly elected president of the United States partying too well with girls far too young for him.
But then a Russian snatch squad or were they Chechen(?) or maybe American (?) set out to capture Charles Street, the man whose career ended on a sour note but who now holds the explosive material. Two characters John Porter and a rather obnoxious but heroic soldier John Bald are recruited to save the day. The bullets fly at an incredible rate but only the baddies, whose numbers never seem to lessen, get killed.
That’s basically what the story is about …but I was forgetting the heroic sacrifice one of our heroes makes when he, with back-breaking effort, drives a nuclear bomb into a rather damp place.
The story was always meant to entertain. It is very well told and the excitement mounts as the events appear on the page. It is a tired story but one that is useful to fill in time on a bus or plane or, if you are really into action yarns, then know that you have an exciting one here. And you have just the man to write it. A former SAS corporal Chris Ryan fought in Iraq, becoming the only member of a four man squad to escape with his life from a particularly dangerous mission. For this he was decorated. He uses his war time experiences to assist with the plots of his novels…and, would you believe, he also writes children’s stories.
While it does not appear to be a difficult book to write, once one tries to replicate the excitement and word power of a Chris Ryan, one soon learns how difficult it really is. I’m talking not just about maintaining excitement and giving the reader satisfaction, I’m referring also to the fact that this is one of a series, each book of which must contribute as much as the other. There is some skill involved and Chris Ryan has it. The book is excellent escape reading.
By Chris Ryan
Hodder & Stoughton/Hachette Aust