True Grit And Tortured, Alcohol-Fueled Oblivion
This was a hard-bitten, gritty, and tersely styled thriller. Stylistically superior writing was combined with a challenging plot interspersed with shocking and brutal action scenes. Temple did not lay out a simple linear story, but wove a more comple
This was a hard-bitten, gritty, and tersely styled thriller. Stylistically superior writing was combined with a challenging plot interspersed with shocking and brutal action scenes. Temple did not lay out a simple linear story, but wove a more complex tapestry of human drama running in parallel and occasionally intersecting, and which eventually comes together in a tight and satisfying resolution.
Themes explored were modern, guerrila-style warfare; mercenary soldiers; corporate and political espionage; wartime torture; violence; cruelty; post-traumatic stress recovery; alcoholism; love; redemption.
The story centres around a South African ex-mercenary soldier who, as one of the hired security personel for very rich and targeted South African businessman, gets embroiled in a viscious assassination attempt, and who stumbles upon a certain item that some very powerful people clearly want retrieved or destroyed at any cost. The ex-mercenary suddenly finds himself needing every bit of his special forces training to remain alive against a shadowy and deadly enemy that commands far more resources than he does. The action ranges mainly between Johannesburg, London, and Hamburg.
Essentially, part of the book is a very satisfying hero-on-the-run type of story, and another main story arc that intersects with this is a harsh story of an alcoholic espionage expert, clearly tortured by the brutal experiences of his past and seemingly hell-bent on self-destruction. Two very different men become entangled in a very scary web of deceit and violence, yet they both try to claw their way back to humanity and redemption. The female characters are equally well developed and portrayed, and the relationships that develop in the story are unexpected and complex. There is a lesser story arc centered around a female journalist that also weaves itself into the mix. This part explores journalistic integrity and the terrible, sometimes life-threatening consequences of getting ahead in journalism.
The characters intersect at first in non-obvious ways and the novel does require some attention and intelligence from the reader. The climactic ending and resolution are well worth the wait and the effort of paying attention while reading this book.
This is a hard-hitting action thriller for the thinking person who enjoys writing of a more literary bent. The character development and psychological insight to the main characters is superior to a standard thriller, and more in the line of what one would expect from a well-written human-interest drama. In other words, this book is not a throw-away read or a cheap thrill that leaves you feeling that perhaps you could have spent your time better doing something else. This sort of special-forces-and-espionage thriller is not one of my favourite genres but I do recommend this book, and especially to fans of the genre.
The quality of this paperback edition is adequate for several reads but expect the spine to crease because of the rather thin glue backing and the fact that the paper is of the easily yellowing and stiff kind found in many mass-market paperbacks.
P.S. The action scenes featuring the South African ex-mercenary are very believable and realistic; they are not of the fantasy hero kind. That said, the South African is one of the toughest and most formidable fictional real-world characters I have come across. One very tough bastard, basically, and very believable.