I was disappointed by the author's previous book, The Afgan, which I felt was inferior in plotting to his many excellent thrillers that I've enjoyed in the past. The Cobra has more in common with the latter, though the theme is very different. In past books the quarry has usually been a political figure or regime, whereas in this book the adversary is the cocaine drugs trade based in Columbia. As with other books by the author there's a lot of detail about aircraft, guns, bombs and admiring references to the SAS and its US equivalent. Women hardly figure: it's real 'boys own stuff', yet, surprisingly, as a woman I enjoy these books. The technological detail gives a sense of authenticity and usually it's not so overdone as to be boring.
It's an intriguing story that starts in the present day, with obvious references to President Obama and PM David Cameron, though they are never mentioned, and carries on into the future for a couple of years. A retired spy is coaxed out of retirement and given leave, and an enormous budget, to create an audacious plan to destroy the network of the cocaine trade fanning out from South America into the USA and Europe. Real and fictitious characters are interwoven in this pacy thriller with some surprises along the way that I won't spoil by describing. The author has obviously done a great deal of research into the drugs trade and it is a chilling story of corruption, vicious violence fueled by the gigantic profits to be made between the crop in the jungle to the streets of the West.
It's interesting how the fall of Communism has caused the likes of Forsyth and Le Carre to find other adversaries for their 'heros' to tackle.
I hadn't heard of this writer before but will certainly be looking out for more of his books. Never Look Away is an enthralling story with many unexpected twists and turns and a narrative drive that reminded me of Robert Goddard at his best. Investigator reporter, David Harwood, gets embroiled in a nightmare scenario after his wife of 6 years goes missing and he is suspected of murdering her. He uncovers surprise after surprise as he tries to prove his innocence.
The reader is excellent and I couldn't stop returning to the recording to find out what on earth was going to happen next.
I have enjoyed David Hewson's previous books in his Rome Series, of which this is the eighth. His hall-mark style is to link a modern police investigation to some historical event, old document or work of art. In this story it's a mythological being, the Blue Demon, from the time of the Etruscans. All the familiar characters are in on the investigation: Nick Costa, Peroni, Theresa Lupo, Falconi, et al. I found this a complicated tale to keep track of as it involved so many threads: political intrigue and corruption, terrorist cells, sleeper operatives from the cold war era, the various mafia-type organizations and clues from the Estruscan era and Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. There was more similarity to Frederick Forsyth's style of thriller than other books in the Rome series. By the end of the book I was beginning to think that the author had stretched credibility even further from reality than usual, however, he tacked on a short history of the shenanigans and corruption in the recent Italian political arena which reminded me that it wasn't so preposterous after all.
As usual Saul Reichlin does a magnificent job in bringing the characters to life.