Even, Andrew Grant, Minotaur, $24.95.
The world needs more books like Andrew Grant's. Lots of times guy customers come in the store and look over our front table, where we have lots of new releases face up, and they're mostly dismayed at the display of dog, cat, soap making, scrapbooking, tea shop, cooking, etc. mysteries. It's easy to see which seven or eight titles on the table will catch their attention. A new series where the main character bears a certain resemblance to another British Commander is welcome, especially when the author, Lee Child's brother, seems to share the family writing chops.
Both comparisons—to Bond and to Reacher—are apt. David Trevellyan, a Commander in the British Navy who works alone in the field, is just as capable as James Bond both at creating havoc and at quelling it. Grant also seems to have the flair for action that Lee Child possesses in spades. This book is pretty much of a non stop thrill ride, with brief stop overs for a stolen cup of coffee. That's about all the breath the plot allows itself before it's off to another action filled sequence.
The plot begins when David, walking home from dinner in New York after the successful completion of a job, finds a body at the mouth of an alley. He makes sure the body is dead and quickly checks through the pockets—just enough time for him to greet the police and then find that he's under arrest on suspicion of murder. He bides his time in jail—entertaining the reader with his method of dealing with an unwelcome fellow prisoner—and is booted upwards, to the offices of the FBI.
His lawyer arrives only to tell him that the British government is taking a hands off stance, and that he's on his own. David is, shall we say, a proactive fellow and he manages to escape, which takes him on another trail where he ends up in a particularly nasty basement. There's a scene here I seriously could have done without (and how a man was able to actually write it is another puzzle) but the action continues to ratchet upwards. David's little field trip and the subsequent outcome have him back on the right side of the law, more or less.
This is essentially a chase novel in a very contained space. Like another favorite action hero who has been updated for the 21st century, Jason Bourne, Trevellyan seems very much like a 21st century Bond without the equipment. Much as Bourne was able to lay waste to someone with a book in one of the films, David works very effectively with what's at hand.
His moral code may at times seem a teeny bit lacking, but his actions are certainly effective, even as he weighs the consequences. Sometimes a human casualty is part of the package, in his evaluation. Getting on his bad side seems like a very, very bad idea. I'm hoping in subsequent books (this is the first) that Grant will flesh Trevellyan out a bit more but that may be a girly dream. Guys may just enjoy the straight up action and non stop ride that the book provides. I'm wishing for many more, in any case. Those guy customers must be appeased.
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