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Friday, February 24, 2012

Review - The Spy Who Jumped Off the Screen

I am going through a spy thriller phase, so keep that in mind.  The blurbs for this book caught my attention, plus the introduction from a former president.  Check out what my thoughts on this debut novel and see if it makes your cut.
Author: Thomas Caplan

Copyright: January 2012 (Viking Adult) 400 pgs

Series: Debut novel of series?

Sensuality: some sex, some swearing

Mystery Sub-genre: Intrigue, Thriller

Main Characters:  Ty Hunter, former
Task Force 508 member, turned Hollywood leading man

Setting: Modern day, Gibraltar, Tangier, and a Yacht

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Ty Hunter is at the height of his career. He is in demand and can pick and choose his movie roles.  When he is in Cannes to support the director who essentially gave him his big break, he is invited to a party on board a yacht.  On the yacht Surpass he is introduced to the beautiful Isabella, her god-father Ian Santal, and her fiancee Phillip Frost.  It is barely a day later that he is contacted by the President of the U.S. because Ian is suspected of possessing, and about to sell, nuclear war heads that were supposed to be dismantled from the old Soviet Union.  Since he was invited onto their yacht, the government feels Ty is their best bet to getting close enough to stop the nuclear war heads, and a potential World War III.  

This is the beginning of a long tale.  Ty is given one piece of high tech gadgetry, a cell phone with a few special features.  The idea is for Ty to get back into Ian/Phillip's presence, via Isabella of course, to ferret out information.  A good bit of time is spent on board the yacht just being the pampered rich. 

Ty Hunter was an okay main character.  Even after reading the story I can't tell you much about his real inner self.  He is a pretty boy actor who seemed more interested in Isabella at times than stopping the imminent WWIII.  So, he is shallow, but then he would have moments of being more like the black ops soldier you expected.  There was the potential to give him more depth but it was only skimmed briefly.  I can't help but compare to Jason Bourne and Bourne wins out.  That is probably not fair of me, but it happened.  Some have compared this book to James Bond and I suppose that would be a better comparison, although I have not read Flemming's books and I suspect this is a slower pace. 

The villain is well done as an amoral, cunning person out for himself in the end.  Ty's contact is Oliver.  Oliver makes for a good supporting character.  Isabella is clueless to what is going on around her and seemed more privileged than anything else, so she makes a good Bond Girl.  Ironically, the surprise stars are four young geeks/hackers employed by the government: Bingo, Delilah Mirador, Jonty Patel, and Nevada Smith. They were great, sadly they appeared later in the book.  These characters are golden, and if this becomes a series, they should be given more prominent roles. 

The plot was good.  The idea of using the dismantling of old nuclear warheads by people who plan to keep them intact, cover their disappearance with an elaborate shell game of misdirection, and sell them is a good story idea.  The use of a former black ops soldier who is an international movie star to become a spy is good as well.  There are fairly convincing political games and manipulations that occur.  It seemed like the perfect combination for a thriller.  But just having the building blocks didn't ensure success on all counts I am afraid.

My biggest let down, personally, was the pacing of the novel.  First, it was long.  That isn't a bad thing in itself, but when there are stretches in the story where I am asking "what is the point of this?" there is a problem.  There were long periods where the reader is immersed in the glamorous world of the ultra rich with no particular point to it.  Ty spends a considerable amount of time on board the uber-glam yacht meeting other wealthy guests, soaking up the sun, and trying to get closer to Isabella.  It isn't until the one big twist in the story that things really pick up.  In other words, it dragged sometimes.  I felt that it could have been trimmed down to be more of the action thriller that the blurbs promised.

The settings are exotic and/or glamorous which did add to the covert feel.  The book provides a lot of details in a wide breadth of topics which provides credibility to aspects of the storyline. There were some good suspenseful scenes and tense moments.  The conclusion of the book was good and left the way clear for a series.

I guess I expected more from this character and book.  I am a Bourne fan, or Camel Club with Oliver Stone fan, so I could not help but compare Ty Hunter to those.  There is no comparison.  This book is for those who like more of a Bond panache and style, so keep that in mind.  Overall this is a fair debut entry - when you keep in mind it is more Bond-esque and the pacing slows at times.  A guilty pleasure for some.

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Harvee said...

I am looking forward to reading this book and even plow through the boring parts, as long as the plot is good. Nice review.

David Harry said...

I'am glad to know that the spy books are still alive and among us. Thanks for the review!

A.F. Heart said...

Thanks for the comments guys. Yes, Spy novels are still around. I am digging them up :-) Happy reading !!

Tom Adair said...

This novel sounds pretty interesting. Thanks for sharing.

A.F. Heart said...

seems this book caught the guys attention :-)

A.F. Heart said...

For those of you who enjoy spy thrillers - heads up!

Moscow Sting: A Novel by Alex Dryden is being offered FREE for e-book on Amazon and Barnes&Noble. The new book is due to be released in April so this is a publicity push. Take advantage of it :-)

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