The Broker – John Grisham

cover the broker

The Broker is the first John Grisham novel I have read. As a CIA/ thriller, it is both credible and an enjoyable read. Grisham is to be commended for exposing the corruption of American politics and the sinister-type programmes engineered by the CIA and at the same time creating a unique and captivating plot. While I found the pace of the novel slow with a lot of padding the book was at times still reasonably hard to put down as the fate of Joel Backman and his adversaries are revealed.

While this book is well written and a good read, as a reader I am disappointed to find that given the promotion of Grisham books and his standing as a novelist, this novel was far from exceptional.

Brian Wilson

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THE DARK CRUSADER – Alistair Maclean

 

 

dark crusader cover

The Dark Crusader, is another clever Alistair Maclean spy thriller which will have you sitting on the edge of your seat. Bentall, the main character, is a larger than life secret agent who is sent out on a secret mission somewhere in the Pacific. He is accompanied by a woman agent, at best described as an enigma and more a page filler. The plot is the strongest featured with its twists and turns but marred by Maclean’s attempts to be too clever with metaphor and similarly, and an apparent need for better proof reading ― not a good look for the publisher. Nevertheless this is a book well worth reading.

Brian Wilson

THE WAY TO DUSTY DEATH – Alistair Maclean

the way to cover

The Way to Dusty Death is a thriller giving testimony to Alistair Maclean’s brilliance. Johnny Harlow- the main character, is no ordinary racing driver and as suspected his mission is a race against time; ‘the way to dusty death’ being a clever play on words. The villains are those whom one would expect, but Maclean is too devious to disclose their motives until well towards the end when one is perched on the edge of one’s seat keen to turn the pages and see the world put to right. This is Maclean at his best and a well-recommended read.

Brian Wilson

DEATH TRAIN by Alastair Mac Neill

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death train

Death Train, is a far-fetched thriller― a train journey far from smooth, as villains set out to deliver a dangerous wagon load while a team from UNACO – an international police force, set out to stop them. Written after the death of Alistair Maclean and contrary to the large misleading print on the cover, this was a novel written by an Alastair MacNeil (set out in small print).  The plot though is based on an Alistair Maclean’s story line and could have been a best seller, but needed Maclean’s expertise in making the story plausible. This story fell well below the standard one would expect from Alistair Maclean.

MIDWINTER by JOHN BUCHAN

midwinter cover

 

 

Midwinter is one of John Buchan’s better novels. The story is set in 1745 when Bonnie Prince Charlie’s sweeps down from Scotland to take the throne from and unpopular George the Second. The main character, Alistair Maclean, is an officer and Jacobite in the service of the prince. His task is to seek out and win support- military preferably, from Old England for the Scottish campaign. The story however has little to do with the campaign and even Midwinter (who features only periodically) and is more about the adventures of Alastair Maclean and the setbacks in fulfilling his mission.

This is a well written novel though in a verbose form of English peculiar to the 1930s. While the story has a good realistic easy to follow plot and might otherwise appeal to a Scot, it is spoiled by poor proof reading. Scottish people in particular find it highly offensive to be referred to as Scotch (Scotch being a liquor) and Scotchman instead of Scotsman. Apart from these bad errors and a title that is totally misleading, this is a good novel.

Brian Wilson

THE ISLAND OF SHEEP- JOHN BUCHAN

The Island of Sheep (Unabridged)

Similarly to his classic, Thirty-nine steps, this book contains adventure, danger, heroes and villains and at times is a hard book to put down, though at others a somewhat difficult book in 1930s English to read. The plot involves a sworn oath between Hannay, Lombard, and the older Haraldsen in which the former two assisted by Lord Clanroyden are called upon when the younger Haraldsen is faced with the prospect of evil intentions by dangerous villians to dispossess him of his immense wealth. From this point the story progresses from demands to threats, blackmail, kidnapping and open warfare and is somewhat far-fetched, though there are great descriptions of various landscapes.

While this book falls well short of the story line in thirty-nine steps, it is well written and well worth reading.

OPERATION IRAN -BRIAN WILSON

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Operation Iran by Brian Wilson is a fast-paced espionage thriller stretching from Mexico to New Zealand and across the Middle East, pitting its protagonists against one another in a deadly game of cat and mouse. The CIA, MI6 and the KGB assign some of their top agents to a mission on which the future of the world may be at stake. A mysterious laser weapon is being moved along a perilous journey to an unknown destination that will decide its use for good or evil. Those assigned to locate and take possession of the weapon are unsure of who or what they are up against. What they are sure of is the urgency of their quest and the consequences of failure. It is a quick-moving suspense tale that will draw you in and keep you there.

Donald Bush is a CIA executive determined to track down the laser weapon, assigning two of his most promising recruits to the chase. Ted and Graeme are on the trail of Adam Brown, a seasoned operative who has been rumored to have been killed in action. The rumors prove unfounded as Adam is on the trail of Saber Azamov and Dr. Ghasemi, Islamic operatives seeking to capture the weapon for their own overlords. Also on the hunt are two couples: Sarah and James, as well as Frank and Olga Reza. Only as the paths intertwine and overlap, patterns develop as does a pressing question: who is actually working for whom?

The author cleverly uses a geopolitical backdrop against the chessboard upon which the characters compete. The Iranian government is suspected to be behind the plot, only they point to the enmity between Israel and their mortal enemies of Islam as the source of the true conspiracy. The Mossad proves to be one of the behind-the-scenes players, though the USA and the UK are also highly concerned as to where the super weapon ends up. As the plot unfolds, we find that Russia and China have also dealt themselves in. The story builds to a climactic finale in which numerous operatives are uncovered as double agents. Adam, Ted and Graeme find themselves in a moonlight masquerade where the person alongside them may be a traitor whose face is the last they’ll ever see.

It’s a whirlwind tour around the globe, taking readers on a chase where deception and betrayal lie around every corner. For espionage fans and action/adventure readers, Brian Wilson’s Operation Iran is a must-read.

J DIZON