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Discreet Activities Paperback – February 1, 2012
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Once again, we are taken on a roller coaster ride with plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader glued to the screen from the beginning until the very end. I start reading these books and I simply cannot put one down until I've read it cover-to-cover. Then, it's on to the next book in the series.
Claude Bouchard is easily becoming one of my favourite authors. I have the complete vigilante series and with the cliff-hanger endings, I'm glad I do not have to wait for the next book to find out what happens to my favourite characters.
Well done, Mr. Bouchard! You keep writing & I will keep reading! :)
A group of rather wealthy, well-trained, smart people work as an off-the-books type agency to serve and protect the citizens of Canada from all sorts of harm including acts of terrorism. In this book the group's focus is a foursome of Iraqi students who our heroes believe are getting ready to commit a serious crime of terrorism against a target in the USA.
As our 'black ops" group is spying on the ski cabin where the foursome is staying and not much happening there YET, we learn more about the Discreet Activities agency through a couple of other ops including chasing down a white collar huckster who made off with millions of other people's money. (Think Burn Notice on TV to get a reference.)
Back at the cabin, things begin to heat up as the students learn they are being bugged, and the ops group figures out that the students know they are being bugged. The goal of Discreet Activities is to figure out who is the mastermind of the plot, not to simply stop the crime. But finding the mastermind proves to be harder than they hoped.
When one of the students finds a murder victim, the whole plot takes on a sinister turn for him. He must not fail to complete his mission and to get the other students to complete theirs. And still the mastermind stands in the shadow for all but that student which makes him the focus of the heroes and the bad guys.
I did enjoy the story. The students involved in the plot connected with me as I watch them get deeper into something without realizing what it would ultimately mean. In fact, I think I connected more with them than I did with the other characters, maybe because I could understand how these things happen, how fast simple talk gets out of hand. Bouchard writes the young men in such a way that made me want to see them get out of the whole thing without hurting anyone and without being hurt. The story was well laid out and gave a feel for how intensive but slow surveillance can be. It also shows how things are never what they seem to be creating an interesting story. This is not the first book by this author, so you might want to read some of the books that preceded Discreet Activities. During dialog, Bouchard uses phrases like "Piece of cake," Jeff nodded while Chris... Since I read in pictures I did not find this distracting but some of you might.
I rate books against others in the same genre.
The short novel moves, which is one good thing. It's also a bad thing. I found myself skimming over some of the more mundane dialogue that often passed for informational dumps and some of the step-by-step narration of character movements, which took the place of deepening the plot. Some of the technical tools of the trade were interesting, but again seemed to be detailed to the point of showing off the research not heighten the story line. The diversions (sub-plots) from the main plot are more to show how bad-ass the "good" guys are rather than taking the time to strengthen and deepen the main plot and intrigue. The grammatical faux pas are nothing about which to get a twist in your knickers.
The author does continually raise the stakes, though the tension is often diminished because the good guys moves are played out ahead of time. A number of reader surprises are rendered flat because of this technique. And to that end, there is only one major plot twist within the body of the story that is well played out. There is a nice reversal at the end, and one final dig that was nicely, though implausible dropped into the end of the story. If you like drop-kicking bad guys, it's a four. But for thriller aficionados, it's a ho-hum three.