When the Cold War ended, he was superfluous to the needs of British Intelligence, but post 9/11 the rapid need for new recruits led to mistakes being made by those new agents. And someone was needed to clear up after those mistakes – hence the need for Scavengers.
Jack thought he’d put all of that behind him – he was drummed out of the service in disgrace, a suspect in the murder of his wife’s lover. But he is drafted back for one last case (one of those) – an old colleague retired to Alaska, but then apparently killed himself. When Jack arrives though, he has a suspicion that the suicide was, in fact, murder. And when someone tries to kill him, that suspicion becomes a certainty…
This month’s reviews started with The Death Ship Of Dartmouth from Michael’s long-running Knights Templar series and is going to finish with Rebellion’s Message, the first book in his new series, set in the reign of Mary I. So I thought I’d keep Jecks Month running with something different from Michael, namely his standalone spy thriller. Although if I recall correctly, there’s a sequel coming soon. Originally published as an ebook, it’s now available as a paperback.
I’ve been curious about this book for a while, but I’ve always been in two minds about trying it. I love Michael’s work, but I’m not a fan of spy thrillers. I think I’ve reviewed one on the blog – one that won awards, mind you – and it really didn’t go well. And I’ll admit – this took a while to grab me.
The plot takes a while to settle down, with a number of characters being introduced and with the big picture being a little hazier than I’d have liked. But as the book went on, I became more and more hooked by the tale. As the book continues, the focus on Jack, and on the FBI agents chasing him, increases and I found this helped a lot. Jack is as sympathetic a character as you could hope for while still being, realistically, somewhat on the ruthless side, which means that, in a push, you don’t know what he’ll do next.
And given the serious themes of the story – primarily terrorism and rendition – the author does a damn good job of giving you the point of view of the villains of the piece and making you understand where they are coming from – even though you probably won’t agree with them, you can see why their plans might make sense to the characters.
So, what you have here isn’t a talk of cat-stroking maniacs or superhuman secret agents who can save the world single-handed, but a tale of a single man who might well be out of his depth. And with no guarantee of a happy ending for anyone…
Overall – I’ll admit, I still prefer Michael’s historical work. But this is an effective, intelligent and very readable thriller. Especially if you’re a fan of the genre, this is Highly Recommended.
And here’s Michael talking about it: