The Liquidator

British Special Security are tired of embarrassing situations; it inevitably leads to embarrassing questions. It’s decided that action is needed to avoid situations in the future. Mostyn, the second-in-command is entrusted with ensuring that problems are removed before they become a problem and he believes he knows just the man – Boysie Oakes. When Oakes heads off for a weekend away with Mostyn’s secretary, he soon finds himself embroiled in a plot that would result in a situation beyond embarrassing. Can Oakes save the day?

The Liquidator is the first in the Boysie Oakes series and gives the back story as to how Oakes became a secret agent. It also shows what type of character Oakes is and he’s not the standard secret agent/assassin material.

A gentle comedy combined with a thriller, it’s different to what I’ve read before and was an enjoyable read.

Rating (out of 5): ****

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D-Boys

An American system has been hacked into and Mike Brown, a computer expert, joins a SWAT team on a regulation mission to apprehend the culprits. Moments later, he’s the only man left standing. They’ve stumbled upon something bigger and Brown is soon assigned to the D-Boys, an elite unit that is unknown outside of those who need to know. Brown joins them on missions around the world, but it seems as though an online game is the key. Terrorists are able to communicate in secret and practice against targets. Power cuts in America are followed by chemical attacks. When it appears as though things can’t get any worse, it is discovered that in the game missions have been undertaken against a nuclear weapon storage facility. This was only a rehearsal and in real life, the facility is stormed and there’s a nuclear weapon on the loose with the West Coast of America the target…

D-Boys is an excellent thriller that moves along at a fast pace throughout. With the online game as well, it can almost be described as a thriller within a thriller. The action is frequent throughout and takes place at a frenetic pace. It’s well worth a read.

Rating (out of 5): *****

Book review: Get Lenin

Get Lenin is set in World War II. Eva Molenaar is working for the British Secret Services, with the book detailing how she was recruited for them. It is learned that the German hierarchy are planning to steal the corpse of Lenin from the Russians to force them out of the war. Molenaar finds herself in with key German plotters and looks to prevent the corpse being stolen.

The first half of the book focuses on Molenaar’s history and how she was recruited for the British Secret Services. It also gives an overview of some of her earlier missions. The second half focuses on the German plot and Molenaar’s attempts to stop the theft. The pace quickens as the German plot develops and there is well-described action as the Germans look to succeed, whilst the Russian and British look to prevent a successful theft.

Rating (out of 5): ****

Book review: The Kremlin Device

An SAS group under the leadership of Geordie Sharp is sent to Russia to help train Russian special forces in their conflict with organised crime. Before leaving, they are informed that they have an additional mission – to plant two nuclear devices in Russia. Orders are not to get involved in any mission undertaken by the Russians, but Sharp helps plan an operation. The first device is to be planted close to the Kremlin and is achieved relatively easily. The second device is to be planted next to the base that they are at, but the vehicle containing the weapon gets ambushed and hijacked when bringing the device back from the embassy in Moscow. Sharp then has to track down the device along with the two men taken with it.

There is plenty of action, starting with the raid by Russian special forces and culminating in tracking down the stolen nuclear bomb. The action is well-described and fast-paced. The situation the SAS team find themselves in deteriorates quickly and plans have to be adjusted at short-notice. This helps add pace to the story, with challenges appearing all the time.

Rating (out of 5): ****

Book review: These Final Hours

These Final Hours sees Colonel Neil Mattox and Chon Li Su in Pyongyang in the moments before America drops a hydrogen bomb on the city in retaliation for a nuclear bomb being exploded in America, which was retaliation for biological agents being released in North Korea to cause crop failure.

The book begins with the central two characters waiting for the American attack and then flashes back to how events had reached that stage. Much of the first half of the book focuses on the relationship between Mattox and Chon Li Su and the development of the ‘Three Horsemen’ plan to cause crop failure. Campbell is at his best describing action and with a fast-moving story, but the plot moves quite slowly in the first half and the breaks in time result in jumps. The second half of the book is full of action as American forces look to rescue some hostages from Pyongyang before the nuclear attack and it moves along at a great pace, with the action being well-described as always. Definitely a novel of two halves.

Rating (out of 5): ***

Book review: Vauclain’s Shield

Vauclain’s Shield sees a hardline Russian regime launch a massive and devastating first strike on America, with hundreds of missiles launched. However, Jonathan Vauclain and his assistant, Kerry Enloe, have developed a shield that stops everything moving at speed, including missiles. America survives without being hit by a single missile, resulting in political change in Russia, but Spetznez teams in America armed with nuclear weapons are put on alert by the hardline regime. Meanwhile, in America, the Joint Chief of Staff lost his son in the failed attack and plans his revenge against Russia, whilst Vauclain and Enloe are kidnapped by Russian agents.

Vauclain’s Shield is an excellent novel that moves along at a fantastic pace, but there is no skimping of detail either. There is some action, but the novel does not rely on this to make in an excellent book. The characters are realistic and believable – for example, Vauclain has doubts about his shield because as well as stopping missiles, it causes planes to crash, whilst the Joint Chief of Staff becomes driven by revenge on Russia. I have read other books by Campbell, but this is his best by quite a distance in my opinion. I cannot recommend this book enough and is the best that I have read this year.

Rating (out of 5): *****

Book review: Cobra Dane

Russia launches nuclear missiles at America and a Russian sleeper team takes over the Cobra Dane radar site on the remote island of Shemya so that America will receive no warning. The sleeper team is successful and America receives a massive first strike that it cannot answer. Except that it was a drill and America is unharmed. There is a power struggle in the Kremlin as some want the incident to be swept up to continue receiving aid, whilst hardliners want it to be known and a new Cold War to begin; America also wants the incident to be unreported. Engineer Frank Trask comes across various people on the island as the situation unfolds.

Cobra Dane is a fast-moving action-thriller. The plot unfolds and it is not known that the attack was actually a drill initially. Once the plot has been activated and both sides work out what has happened, the novel brings in a political aspect as well. Trask is an unlikely hero and when he is introduced, he is hungover. Both sides move forces to the area and the action that takes place is well described. Cobra Dane is a very enjoyable action-thriller and another triumph for John Campbell.

Rating (out of 5): ****