Sunday, 1 January 2012

Fair Game

Disgustingly late with my updates to this blog aren't I? Well I blame it on reading a lot but not finishing much. That and I'm lazy when it comes to doing commitments!

Anyway with my crazy long delay to one side, I want to wish you all a very happy and productive 2012 and I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas celebrations. I know I did, I had a week off for one thing!!
And since the festive period always brings me some new pieces to wrap my eyes around (three books given to me this year, and time to read them!!), I sank myself into some proper reading, finishing the book I had been reading, which I won't be writing a review of simply because it's about book six of a series (David Weber wrote a lot for that series and I've been trying to dig into it. Good reads though. Hornblower in space is already a winner!), another warhammer 40k book, Salvation's Reach the latest in the Gaunts Ghosts series by Dan Abnett that I had really been looking forward to reading and yep, it was a damn fine read at that, and I know what is going to happen to a few of his characters in a book or two. He does tend to follow predictable lines after a while, downside to writing a long series really.

The final book I was given is the focus for the review today, Fair Game by Stephen Leather.

Now this book is a real departure from what I normally read, which if you haven't guessed yet is mainly military sci fi, general sci fi and girl on girl romance, as this book is modern day military fiction, but I have to admit that I did enjoy it, far more than other similar books I have tried and failed to get on with in the past.

The story follows Daniel 'Spider' Shepherd, a former SAS soldier now working as an agent for MI5 and the tasks he is put onto. We join the action in Ireland where he is undercover in the Real IRA, where he is forced to shoot two of the bad guys to save the life of an undercover cop, thus blowing his cover.
On his return to England, his break is cut short when he is brought in on a case involving the pirates of Somalia, and is asked to find out who might be leaking data from a shipping company to a particular band of pirates.
Bit of a boring and shitty job for a guy used to kicking in the door and chucking a flashbang in eh? Well you'd be right, but things don't stay that way for long when a yacht is captured by the pirates where one of the captives is the God-daughter of the PM. Uh oh.
So without giving much more of the plot away, there's action on the high seas (no buckles swashed, but something more akin to Seagal and Under Siege) an international terror plot and some high paced adrenaline action in Africa and the UK itself, you have a story worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster, just with a hell of a lot less technical errors.

Now I quite literally just finished this book (bout half an hour ago) and I have to say that I did enjoy it. The main character isn't some 2d action hero, but a far more well rounded character and the other characters in the book are pretty well fleshed out too, which does make a nice change from what we seem to be getting in a lot of modern media. I found myself quite absorbed in it, finishing it in just a couple of days between bouts of heavy drinking and eating and yelling at my TV as some fucker snuck up behind me on Battlefield 3 or Ace Combat Assault Horizon (yes that is this girl's preferred sort of video game.). I found myself associating with the characters a lot more than I would have expected to given my previous history with such books and spent most of the time hoping that the various bad guys would meet their end in a very messy way, my own personal feelings about the groups they belong to aside, which as you can probably guess I have increasing levels of hatred for.

The narrative is quite well paced and as I've said, rather involving, the ending pretty satisfactory as well which also seems to be a rare thing. My only complaint about the ending is that the bad guy at that stage as a far to clean an ending and for my money needed a much nastier end, but that is just me and I'm sure others would find it fine. For the bulk of the book however, my only complaint is that it takes ages to truly get going, most of the action happening in the last hundred or so pages of the book. Annoying, but something you can live with. Just.

However, this book is actually the eighth in the series the author has written for this particular character, which I hadn't realised till I was some way into it and I'm pretty sure the person who gave it to me hadn't noticed either. Yet this is not a problem at all. The book is well written enough for this not to matter, allowing you to jump straight into the action of this book without the need for you to have read the books preceeding it. You do feel as if there are a couple of details you might have missed, but in the end its not a major problem and doesn't distract from the enjoyment of this narrative.

With everything this book has to offer, I give it a solid five stars. A damn fine read all told.

Fair Game by Stephen Leather.
ISBN: 978-0-340-92498-3
Author website:

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