Wednesday, 5 September 2012
Book Review: The Diamond Seekers by Jack Everett and David B. Coles
The Diamond Seekers
by Jack Everett and David B. Coles
Barking Rain Press
When a courier for the powerful crime family descended from Niccolò Machiavelli realizes he’s being followed by a rival family assassin, he takes a detour through the English countryside to shake his pursuer. He manages to hide his precious cargo—a fortune in blood diamonds from Sierra Leone—before his pursuer collides with an English family on a holiday drive. The courier drowns in a swollen river; the mother and son die in the crash. The father is emotionally devastated, and retires in despair from his MI5 cipher career.
Five years later, the head of the Machiavelli crime family, Alberto Lorente, is still in pursuit of his missing diamonds and is ready to launch an ambitious scheme to recover them. What follows is a twisted trail of murder, kidnapping and layers upon layers of subterfuge. The British Security Services are seriously compromised, but no one knows how or by whom. Suddenly, our former MI5 cipher expert is on everyone’s shopping list…
There seems to be a universal fascination with secret service agents, note the popularity of James Bond and Jason Bourne for example. Our hero in this book, Philip Madden worked in the cipher department at MI5, as did his wife Tracey. When his wife and son, Joshua, are killed in the car accident, Madden is forcibly retired and retreats to the countryside where he spends most of his days gardening and trying to get over the loss of his wife and child. But once working for the security services, you never really retire. Was the car crash really an accident? And if not, who was the target, Philip or his wife?After a strange phone call from a man claiming to be his illegitimate son, an attempt is made on his life, and his friend is murdered, as the sniper mistook him for Philip. He goes on the run to Austria to a friend he knew from university. Someone has kidnapped his alleged son, Carl, and the kidnapper's want something from Philip. But what? Philip hasn't escaped the danger, he's brought it with him to his friends. Philip is being chased by various departments, MI5, MI6, Interpol, different sets of villains and he is not sure who to trust.
This was a roller coaster ride taking you from the English countryside, to Italy, to Austria and through quite a bit of Europe as Philip does his best to evade whoever is chasing him. The chapters are short and well-paced, leading you onto the next one and you just have to keep reading. Philip is a sympathetic character and you are immersed in his emotions, from his grief at losing his family to his determination to catch the culprits, single-handed if need be.
I enjoyed the book immensely and I couldn't tell it was written by two people, it gelled so well.
However, there were a few niggles which took me out of the story. Philip Madden is the epitome of an Englishman, yet we had some lines from his point of view where he stopped at a gas station instead of a petrol station. English people would rarely call it a gas station. He also mentioned majors at university. No, again that would be a US term. British people study a subject, such as English, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics etc. It wouldn't be called a 'major', you would just call it by the subject. "I'm studying Chemistry" for example, or sometimes "I'm reading Chemistry" depending on the university. There is no major because you usually study one subject, and don't minor in anything. Some universities allow you to do a joint degree, Physics and Chemistry, for example, and both would be a full degree, not one of them being a minor.
Don't get me wrong, the book is a well-told tale with interesting and expertly drawn characters. Even the villains have depth, that is sometimes lacking in thrillers, but not here. Each character has their place in the overall arc, but it's really Philip Madden who you get to know the most and want to see him succeed. A very interesting read. The book has a bit of everything: adventure, action and even a bit of romance and I'm glad I got a chance to read it. Once started, it's a hard book to put down, you want to know so desperately what's going to happen next.
Reviewed by Annette Gisby