A DENIABLE DEATH - Gerald Seymour
You'd think, on the face of it, that this would be a book that would be right up my dark and twisty alley but for some reason A DENIABLE DEATH took an age to read, and I came away from it with a mild sense of disappointment.
And try as I might, I can't quite put my finger on why, as there was much about the book that I did like. It's very much a contemporary thriller, with a very strong idea as the central plot, delivered with pace and authority. I suspect what didn't quite work for me was the contrivance of the classic lone wolf - Badger - trudging through a very dangerous mission with a partner in tow that he can't stand. For some reason that didn't quite gel. Perhaps it's a device that seemed designed overtly to create a bit of tension. Whatever it was, the sniping and bitching got me flipping too many pages, and struggling to maintain focus at points.
Which was annoying as the idea of C.R.O.P. agents somehow seemed very realistic, possible, interesting. I just couldn't get the whole scenario to make sense - even though it is perfectly feasible that at some point in your life, everybody is going to be stuck in some sort of boat with somebody you'd happily rather throw overboard. On one level the whole thing seemed like a reasonable situation - yet at the same time it just refused to work for me in this book.
Of course, it's also very very possible that this simply was the wrong book at the wrong time, and something about those two central characters just got up my nose for no particular reason. Stranger things have been known to happen, and despite any slight sense of disappointment in A DENIABLE DEATH, there are lots of other books by this author that I have loved, and will continue to seek out.
C.R.O.P.: Covert Rural Observation Posts are places where men like Danny 'Badger' Baxter hide for endless, motionless hours, secretly recording criminal or terrorist activity.
But now Badger has a bigger job than photographing dissident Republicans in muddy Ulster fields or Islamic extremists on rainswept Yorkshire moors.
I.E.D.: Improvised Explosive Devices are the roadside bombs which account for 80% of British casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.
MI6 have a plan to assassinate the leading maker of these weapons when he leaves his house in Iran to visit Europe. But first, they need to know when he is leaving, and where he is going.
So it is that Badger finds himself on the wrong side of the Iranian border, lumbered with a partner he loathes, lying under a merciless sun in a mosquito-infested marsh, observing the house. And knowing that if they are caught, Her Majesty's Government will deny all knowledge of them.