By Charles Winstanley
Terrorists poison Manchester, England’s water supply and threaten worse if their demands aren’t met. Special Branch officer David Rockbourne teams with MI5 agent Laura McAllister to stop them. In their quest, they must deal with a stubborn Home Office Minister and a developing romance.
Thrillers usually make for a good story. Terrorists poisoning the water sounds good. Agents on the go trying to stop them are the ones to cheer for.
However, as mentioned below, this is the basic plot with hardly any sidelines, scant details about bad guys their background, and quick chapters.
Gary Charles Potter: 50, thinning hair, a bit overweight, married with daughters, Minister of State for the Environment
David Rockbourne: 42, 6’2”, police officer in the Special Branch, in the middle of a divorce, dark hair, parents dead, attended Cambridge, was in the intelligence corps, scar on forehead
Laura McAllister: 32, MI5 agent, long brown hair, has a brother, attended Queens University, parents dead, has a degree in mathematics,
Yuri Datsik: has a daughter, gray hair, weathered skin, blue eyes, former Speznaz Lt. Colonel,
Chris Stirling: 40, married with daughter, works for Clean Flow PLC, attended Cambridge, author, PH.d
Richard Richardson: England’s PM
Characters are pretty basic. The main players each have a short intro chapter with a limited dossier version of physical, employment, and academic details.
In the file that I read, there was no comma before many of the tag lines. At least in one instance there is a single quote to dialogue while most are double. I don’t care which but it needs to be consistent. Conversations didn’t wander and explanations were almost too succinct. Part of my problem, explained below, is that I didn’t see the emotional reaction to the dialogue. I heard Potter’s frustration and dismissal of what authorities were telling him, but that was about it.
No real voices come through other than Potter’s. I certainly didn’t hear the Russian voices.
The interrogation between the good guys and one of the terrorists was not believable, especially in light of the crisis. Too bland. Hardly any emotion shown.
Titled chapters. Short chapters. A couple bits of missing, incorrect, and misplaced punctuation. Some repetitious words or phrasing close together. For instance the terrorist’s emails are unnecessarily repeated.
Okay, let me try to explain my biggest problem with the story. First, let me say, that, as mentioned above, it’s a good plot. Oft seen thriller, yes, but still good. However, the writing style is basic. Chapters are short and therefore, do not go into too much depth or detail. It’s basic information about character, scene. Emotional and action-oriented depth are lacking. I didn’t feel close to the story. Sentences were basic: (not an actual example, but close enough) Yes, he knew the danger was near. However, he was attracted by her beautiful eyes.
The romance was pat, expected, not enough resistance or tension. Both Laura and David, conveniently, had just gotten out of troubled relationships and too quickly felt attraction for one another.
What’s not quite believable is how calm and casual the characters who are in London remain or seem to act. Some are ‘concerned’ but it’s more of a frustrated discussion type of attitude. Not to play spoiler but approaching the half way point in the story, the plot would have seen riots and chaos throughout the city and elsewhere. At least that would seem the logical outcome of events. But there’s nothing. No showing how the population reacts.
Other scenes aren’t believable. In one, the good guys know that one terrorist is going to fire off a missile with nerve gas but there are several targets. Immediately, all top government officials would have been notified and moved to safety, (some were) but the royal family isn’t swept up until after the attack. Some
With only a bit more than 47,000 words, this is novella territory, which is fine if that’s what the author wanted. However, this could have been much longer story with more punch. I debated between two ranks and although there were no misspelled words I noticed, the story became less believable as it went along.