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by Chris Ryan
Coronet, April 2013
400 pages
6.99 GBP
ISBN: 1444706462

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Sergeant Joe Mansfield and the rest of his SAS unit were not meant to get too close to the action when a US special forces team descended on a compound believed to contain the world's most wanted man, but things didn't go entirely to plan. Joe and fellow trooper Ricky Singh end up very definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time and covering their tracks doesn't prove to be easy, even though they later do their best to deny any breach of their orders.

At first Joe thinks they've got away with it, but when Ricky dies in a minefield, Joe begins to have suspicions that someone wants him dead. The only problem is, he doesn't know why. The violence soon escalates, and Joe is set up in the most horrific way possible for a murder he didn't commit, but as he's caught quite literally with his wife's blood on his hands, it's hardly surprising that no one believes him. Joe is taken to Barfield, a high security remand prison in south-east London, and finds his life is as much at risk on the inside as it was on the outside.

The only person inclined to believe in Joe's innocence is his childhood friend, Eva Buckley, now a policewoman and she is drawn into a dangerous game of cat and mouse as Joe succeeds in escaping from prison to embark on a hunt for the truth behind the destruction of his family.

There's no doubting the authenticity of former SAS sergeant Chris Ryan's technical knowledge of weapons and the men who wield them and his action scenes have an explosive violence to them that is always convincing even when the events described are highly unpalatable. He also does a good job of invoking the often tortuous political machinations behind the killing of bin Laden. Where the book is less convincing, however, is in its depiction of women. Despite the active part played by Eva Buckley, it's hard to escape the feeling that Ryan reduces women to at worst little more than the subject of violence or at best, a convenient plot device. But despite that, Ryan tells a good tale, and Joe Mansfield is a suitably tough protagonist who can hold his own in most company.

Linda Wilson is a writer, and retired solicitor, with an interest in archaeology and cave art, who now divides her time between England and France.

Reviewed by Linda Wilson, June 2013

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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