“Someone wants Jake Parker dead. He’ll find out why, or die trying…”
- Book: False Allegiance
- Location: Cape Verde, Gambia / Senegal border, Massachusetts
- Author: Nick Thacker
Oh my goodness! This series just gets better and better!
Author Nick Thacker really does know how to push all the buttons on those four things I always look for to make an amazing thriller. An opening that hits the ground running and sets the pulse racing, a storyline which never lets up and keeps the adrenaline flowing, towards an ending which is satisfyingly final and ties up all the loose ends of the assignment, even though I know that the next case is probably only just around the corner for this intrepid investigator. Oh! and that all important fourth element – the good guy can’t be dead, which Jake Parker only just manages by the skin of his teeth in all his adventures, but this time especially, was much too close for comfort!
Short, punchy chapters and some excellent crisp dialogue, kept the action moving along seamlessly at breakneck speed and although there was nary a wasted word or full stop, I felt that somehow I found out more about what makes Jake Parker tick, than I had in any of the previous stories, with many more moments of quiet introspection, making it much easier to relate to him, as much as he allows anyone to that is. He seems to have grown in stature as he has taken on the role, moulded and shaped it, to make it very much his own. His personality, emotions and vulnerabilities were more visible and laid bare for those who knew him best to see, in a very real and honest way. This multi-layered, intense and textured storyline, really tested Jake’s stoicism and loyalties, as he is put in the very unenviable position of having to choose between head and heart, country and family. But when neither are particularly palatable options, one side is as corrupt as the other, oh! and just about everyone wants you dead, what’s a man to do? Perhaps my only smidgen of concern for Jake, is that his love life seems to have stalled spectacularly, which is a real shame, although in Holland, he has now found a new working partner who he is able to trust implicitly, each of them complementing the other, without the need for any firm or binding commitment, as total honesty with each other is their unspoken bond.
The author has really found the perfect way to collaborate with Jake, affording him a strong voice and personal input into his own storylines, whilst still keeping a firm guiding hand on both characters and readers, leading them with total confidence and authority, in the direction he wants them to go, to a conclusion of his choosing. Jake definitely has a penchant for surrounding himself with water as the main arenas for his final showdowns, and as the action moves from the car chases of mainland USA, through the portside of Cape Verde and on to the inhospitable jungle rivers of the Gambian/Senegalese border region, nothing much has changed this time. The crisp and assured, observational and descriptive narrative, brings depth and range to the writing, affording a real sense of time and place, helping to put me right at the heart of things, although I’m not too sure that I would have been a willing observer to much of the action, between trying to fend off all those pesky night time jungle insects, dealing with the tropical heat and humidity, and trying my hardest to deal with the motion sickness of a none to stable boat on all that water – all whilst being shot at!
The author has, as always, done a great job at creating a well defined and developed cast of multi-faceted characters and whilst I might have been able to get under the skin of Jake Parker a little better this time around, connecting with him in any meaningful way is a whole different matter, as he definitely isn’t going to open up and let anyone into his innermost thoughts and feelings anytime soon. In fact that goes for just about all of the main cast of characters, who keep their vulnerabilities in strict check, as they are all busy ‘playing both ends against the middle’, with their double dealings, secret meetings, duplicitous behaviour and bare-faced lies. All traits I have to say, which make them authentically drawn and genuinely believable in the roles they have to play. Nick pays as much attention to detail with his transient cast of ‘visiting’ characters and when I had trouble spotting the bad guys from the good, I guess that’s a job well done by him!
This series as a whole, continues to be well considered and structured, so that each episode slots in as a stand alone story in its own right, whilst at the same time leading to a potential series finale which I just know is going to be explosive and all-consuming. I just need to know if Jake is going to survive and I can’t wait!