4/5 The title of this book immediately caught my imagination. I’m not a rabid conspiracy theorist but, I must admit, I did think it a bit odd that the Americans, having finally nabbed the world’s most wanted man, Osama Bin Laden, weren’t expectedly gung ho in showing him, or at least his bloodied remains, to the world’s media.
Enter Chris Ryan, former SAS soldier turned writer, with, what seems to me, a feasible explanation.
I’ve not read any of Ryan’s previous offerings and I was expecting blood and guts and a kind of boys’-own type hero as the lead character.
Well the blood and guts were firmly in evidence right from the get go but as to the boys’-own hero? This guy is less Bruce Willis and more ordinary Joe - though, of course, with a few extraordinary killing skills up his camo-jacket sleeve, as you would expect from any self respecting member of Her Majesty’s Special Forces.
Joe Mansfield was there, on the ground in Pakistan, the night Seal Team 6 took out Bin Laden and the premise of the book is that, without knowing it, he saw something he shouldn’t have and now a very ruthless someone wants him dead
And they will stop at nothing to accomplish that mission.
Joe is stalked from his home to a Highlands hideaway, his family is targeted is the most bloody and awful way. His child, until then a bit of a geeky disappointment to his macho pop, becomes an integral part of the story, as does their, sometimes difficult relationship.
Over almost 400 pages, Ryan manages a non-stop ride of violence and suspense with a fair dose of very real humanity thrown in.
I particularly liked the part, fairly early on in the book, where a demoralised and frightened Joe returns to his home and the sound effects of his son’s video game take him momentarily back to the battle field. There’s no artifice but in this simple scenario Ryan manages to deftly demonstrate the horrors of post traumatic stress felt by so many of his comrades in arms. Liz O’Reilly