One of the things that worries me about the success of sites like Amazon is that sooner or later that is where we’ll buy everything and there won’t be any books shops on the High Street where you can just browse and buy a book you might otherwise never heard about.
They can turn out to be complete rubbish or one of those gems that you promise yourself to read again and again. The Jack Nightingale novels by Stephen Leather, for example, which I’ve reviewed here, but would never known about but for an idle turn around the shelves of Waterstones.
That’s why I buy my books there, rather than online, assuming there is a decent offer on, as there was yesterday — three hardbacks for the price of two. So I bought The Siege by Nick Brown, Sworn Sword by James Aitcheson and Spartan by Matthew Dunn.
I started with the latter for no better reason than it was top of the pile. I was also intrigued by the dust jacket that told me that the author was a real-life spy, ‘trained by SIS in all aspects of intelligence collection and direct action’.
I’m only 37 pages in, but I’m beginning to suspect that this is one book likely to fall into the ‘turkey’ category. Already I dislike the main character who is all James Bond macho, but without the sense of humour.
He gets shot twice in the stomach in the early pages and wakes up in a CIA safe house in New York, but decides that despite his injuries, he can take out the men guarding him in less than thirty seconds. Yeah, right. Must be the medication.
Back in London, his spymaster boss piles on the clichés: ‘I need you to do what you do best and what no-one else is capable of. You must succeed despite the odds against you doing so.’
And his mission? To prevent a major terrorist action. As his boss puts it, ‘You must stop him from committing genocide.’
I don’t like to be picky, but terrorist attacks cannot be described as ‘genocide’, no matter how many victims there are as by definition it involves having a degree of control over the targeted group.
But perhaps Dunn has a plotline in mind that is beyond anything I can believe a terrorist group is capable of doing.
And perhaps I’m being unfair on the author after so few pages read, so I’ll persevere if I can and see if he can surprise me still.