What the blurb says:-
Ex-Delta Force solder Jack Ford is trying to put the past behind him. But when he receives a letter from someone he has hasn’t spoken to in thirty years, claiming he has a daughter, he is compelled to find out the truth.
Soon he’s on a plane to China, a country he hasn’t returned to since witnessing the atrocities of the Tiananmen Square massacre. But on his search he stumbles upon a document which both the Chinese and American governments are desperately chasing. Now Jack is trapped in an impossible dilemma: save his daughter or prevent a new world war where thousands will lose their lives.
I really don’t know where to start with this except that I loved it and as much as I wanted to find out the ending I also didn’t want it to be over. It’s one of those books you can imagine as an action film; a dark and somewhat troubled central character haunted by his past who unwittingly gets catapulted back into the world of spies and espionage while trying to navigate issues in his personal life. Jack is the stereotypical tough guy -slightly aging but still with the power and cognitive agility to protect himself and others when required. But setting the movie like quality aside and my imaginings of who would play ex-soldier Jack Ford, more seriously the book dissects the sobering reality of the fragility of world security and the battle for dominance between east and west.
The student uprising at Tiananmen Square provides the backbone of the richly layered plot with the ‘Tank Man’ trope providing a powerful contrast between oppression and freedom. There is a littering of twists and turns assisted by well thought out characters all trying to out play each other with both external and internal power struggles. The representation of the unnamed incompetent and ignorant ‘POTUS’ is a delight, spot on and relevant. The name of the self aware and astute female Vice President is a wonderful sardonic co-incidence. While the USA and China conspire against each other Jack is battling his own demons coming to terms with secrets he discovers in his own personal sphere involving the existence of a grown up daughter he never knew he had,
The story switches between China and the USA and races along at a cracking pace yet it really captures the tension between two superpowers. It is helped along by examining the individual players lower down the pecking order with their own ambitions and self serving motivations, even those purportedly on the same side. The scattering of quotes from Hamlet and Macbeth remind us that these battles for the upper hand are ages old and are more about personal advancement than the the good of society. As the characters compete and conspire events converge and overlap with unexpected results putting the world on the brink of disaster and bringing the book to a nail biting and unexpected ending.
This for me is what reading is all about, skilful plotting and complex characterisation set against real life events that keeps you wanting more. I really hope that we haven’t seen the last of Jack Ford.
Thank you to @damppebbles for allowing me to be part of this (my first!) blog tour and thank you also to @blackthornbks for my copy of Shamini Flint’s The Beijing Conspiracy.