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Crisis: the action-packed Sunday Times No. 1 bestseller

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The only bit of the plot I didn’t find far fetched was the idea of smuggling a weapon of mass destruction into the UK. Drawing on his years of experience reporting on security matters, CRISIS is Frank Gardner’s debut novel. A future course of action is spoken of in the current conversation so when it actually happens, the reader isn't necessarily shocked or surprised by it.

In co-operation with a rogue state, and using the attributes of his mini-submarines usually used for smuggling the drugs, he has concocted a plan that will wipe the smile off the faces of those gringos – literally! There is no room for any emotional journey or introspection from the main characters and it can be difficult to keep track of the parallel stories with so many secondary characters in walk-on parts.Sent into the steaming Colombian jungle to investigate the murder of a British intelligence officer Luke finds himself caught up in the coils of a plot that has terrifying international dimensions. When SIS operative Jeremy Benton is murdered in Tumaco, Colombia, ex-SBS and ‘probationary’ agent Luke Carlton, who spent his childhood growing up in Colombia, is despatched to investigate.

I was hoping someone of Frank Gardner's impressive journalistic background would be able to come up with something a bit less derivative than this by-the-numbers spook yarn with its cliche square-jawed ex-Commando hero and assorted snarling, one-dimensional Latino baddies. Unfortunately by introducing her and then finding ways to shoehorn her into the plot, all Gardner does is slow down the narrative unnecessarily, add yet another unrealistic and ultimately superfluous, yet entirely predictable, subplot (from the moment in the opening chapters that you find out Elise knows martial arts you’re just waiting for her to be placed in a situation where she needs to use them) and irritate the reader.The action swings back and forth between London and Colombia as the story moves to a thrilling climax. I didn’t find many of the characters to be overdrawn or caricature-like, which in itself was refreshing. I felt for Elise a bit in this novel, you could feel her pain as she hardly knew where her boyfriend kept dissappearing to and just when she thought he was back for good, he was off on another mission. Oh, and I HATED how the girlfriend had been written - whiney Sloane Ranger one minute; kick-arse, kidnap escaping martial expert the next. The second Luke Carlton thriller, Ultimatum, was also a Sunday Times top 10 bestseller, as was the third, Outbreak.

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