Black Ops


I think my dad gave me this one after having read it — it’s the sort of thing he tends to read. It was the sort of book I used to read, having churned my way through plenty of Clancy and the like in days past.

This one doesn’t feature a plot that threatens the world, mercifully, but has plenty of action around stopping terrorists, preventing assassination plots and destroying criminal networks.

Having said that, most of the action is over and done with fairly quickly and the bulk of the book becomes a tedious narration of flights, meetings and conversations. There are some tense moments, a few twists and turns but at no point do you feel this isn’t all going to end well. There’s rarely a sense of peril and any tight spot is usually exited by simply calling a friend.

This is the 12th book in the Spider Shepherd series, which might explain the lack of any character development or progression. Having jumped straight into a series, especially this late in it, means there’s not a lot of backstory still to uncover. That said, all of the characters were still paper thin and, if I had read the rest of the series, the constant mentions of each character’s CV would probably have been even more annoying.

To start with I was really enjoying this and burned through it — it’s not a challenging read — but the book slowly tapers off into forgetable escapades as the ‘mission’ outlines provided earlier on are simply played out to the letter — no stumbling blocks or unexpected turns, at least none that aren’t passed by with a shrug of the shoulders.

Clearly these books do well, but it felt like the writer phoned it in, which may explain how he can churn out a couple of books a year. Suitable for passing the time, but not much else.

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Reviewed: 2nd June 2020