Opening with a meeting between a protagonist and the US Government about accusations of terrorism and murder that is disrupted by organised crime, this book immediately places itself in the Hollywood-action-movie section of the thriller genre. Fortunately, Seeley does not disappoint, taking the reader from big-budget thrill to high-octane spill without losing the last shred of feasibility.
This novel was originally released in serial format as Trench Coats, Episodes I-VI.
Pia Sabel, ex-Olympic athlete and head of a blue chip private security firm, tracked a paedophile ring to Sri Lanka. Having employed her impressive resources to smash it – but unable to catch all those involved – she finds herself facing extradition for crimes she didn’t commit (as well as the ones she technically did). When the US Government refuse to support her claims of innocence, she resolves to save the children and clear her name.
This novel is the second in the Pia Sabel series. But James provides a good balance of explanation and assumption, making it work equally well as a stand-alone work.
Filled with groups that are not quite what they seem, allegiances that are merely convenient to both sides, fast cars, and gun battles through the streets, this is novel has all the punch and glitz of explosion porn. However, this is more than just a series of set pieces strung together.
Although Sabel Security are everything that Team America satirised, right down to acting like a world police, they are contrasted against a world where others go further: a world where trampling on sovereignty and the rule of law actually are necessary to save the innocent.
Demonstrating an awareness that cinematic glamour doesn’t actually make everything less severe, James instead applies a more realistic touch to many of the worst events; the description of water-boarding is especially harrowing.
In keeping with a novel about people fixing the world’s problems themselves, Pia Sabel is not that lovable a character: her aims are commendable, and her portrayal sympathetic, but when not facing immediate peril she radiates the arrogance of the celebrity rich.
Jacob Stearne, the second main protagonist, is equally sympathetic, and equally an above average example of a movie hero: ex-military, a womaniser but half in love with Pia, and a bit of a maverick.
The grimy yet aspirational flavour extends to the supporting characters, providing allies who are better than their enemies, and villains who are trying to avert worse evils.
The only slightly odd note is James’ decision to have Sabel Security use first names rather than last for identification: however otherwise bad-ass a character is, it is impossible not to unconsciously associate Agent Marty and Agent Tania with a more innocent story.
Overall I enjoyed this book. I recommend it to readers seeking a thriller with plenty of action that isn’t burdened with false depth.
I received a free copy from the author with no obligation to review.