KILLING FOR THE COMPANY - Chris Ryan
I'm starting to wonder if it's become mandatory for ex-SAS or other special forces members to leave active duty and write books. It seems that there are a lot of options for this sort of informed thriller style book, but you'll need to be partial to something that includes a military theme somewhere.
KILLING FOR THE COMPANY has, as it's first military connection, an ex-SAS member, Chet Freeman, invalided out, now working in anti-bugging and surveillance on contract for a major American corporation. Long story short, he catches Suze McArthur, a peace campaigner, eavesdropping on a meeting between corporation executives and the British Prime Minister, Alistair Stratton, that seems to be talking about a personal financial incentive for the Prime Minister to be take his country into the Gulf War.
The opening action takes the reader back 10 years, leaping forward to the current as the cover-up for that eavesdropping proves deadly, even after all these years. The Prime Minister (nobody's going to earn a gold star for working out who it's based on) is now a Middle East peace envoy and in the second military connection, Freeman's mate and special services, close protection agent Luke Mercer is in the action. Firstly he's contacted by McArthur asking for his help, secondly as he's assigned to get Stratton into Gaza.
The setup is absolutely rapidfire, and totally no holds barred. Once the baddies and the goodies are all sorted out though, you're going to need to fire up that suspension of disbelief and keep it operating at tip top condition. You're also going to need a little bit of a thick skin (actually you're probably going to need that from the outset). After all, there's "getting" the idea that sometimes you have to dehumanise the opposition to be an effective fighter, and then there's some very confrontational terminology and attitudes. Readers are also going to have to be comfortable with the idea that sometimes bad things happen - very very bad things.
I've never read anything else from this author, and I've never seen any of the television programs that he's been connected with, so I've no idea how this book sits in terms of his other work. Whilst this was a very action packed thriller, particularly in the early stages, and there's some good and some very surprising twists in the lives of the characters. There are some rather formulaic aspects, a bit of a dodgy plot, and for some reason, that dehumanising that really stuck out. There's also that idea that because you can work out who the high-profile figure is, you just can't shake the feeling that there could be a bit of political statement going on. Perhaps if the connection to the Prime Minister hadn't been quite so obvious, the plot might have been slightly more believable. If you don't care about that, and you don't mind your plots wobbling a bit under the pressure of the action, KILLING FOR THE COMPANY would definitely be one of those high-action summer reading type thrillers.
2003. Invalided out of the SAS Chet Freeman makes his living in high-end security, on a temporary contract for an American corporation called the Grosvenor Group. He catches a young woman, a peace campaigner, eavesdropping on a meeting the Group is holding with the British Prime Minister. The Group's interests include arms manufacture, and what Chet and the young woman overhear seems to imply that it is bribing the Prime Minister to take his country into an illegal war. Could this possibly be true?