- Publisher: Replica Books (January 1, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0735104514
- ISBN-13: 978-0735104518
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 203 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,918,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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When our spy goes to the USA and interacts with American agents the author does not know the American agency language and terminology. As an example, American agents do not refer to higher ups or their bosses as "their masters". There are numerous other examples of when the spy is in the US and working with Americans that British terminology is used. I'm surprised the Editors/Publishers did not catch these.
This author has a another book or two out and I'll try one more to see if the wring improves. If not it will be the last one I read from him.
I was drawn to pick up this book because Matthew Dunn is a former MI6 field operative, and I thought that by reading someone with personal experience in the intelligence field I might find a thriller with some authenticity to it. No such luck. Mr. Dunn may have distinguished himself as a top agent, but I wish he had trained for writing a book with the same rigor he must have adopted in training to be a spy.
There are so many things about this book that are just awful. Topmost is that the characters don't seem real. The protagonist, Will Cochrane, is not any ordinary MI6 agent, but a one-of-a-kind superagent who can take down a horde of adversaries with his bare hands. In one fracas with a platoon of Iranian agents, other special forces operatives get killed, but Will Cochrane hardly comes close. Indeed, there is one stretch before and after that fracas where Will has been shot (only a flesh wound, of course) and has gone without eating or sleeping for I-don't-know-how-many hours, yet he still has the stamina to run distances and be sharp and skilled enough to subdue his enemies. During that course of time, he has even spent time in a freezing lake, but then carries on hours afterwards without a hint of hypothermia!
More: anybody as honed for superagent-dom as Cochrane would likely be a walking weapon, his focus not to be diverted by anything else. But Cochrane's mind is always wandering. He worries about too many people potentially becoming collateral damage by what he does. While he's hot the trail of his adversarial "mastermind" (a word used several times, he'll see something that will trigger a sideways thought about his family or about children playing in a park, or any-one-of-a-dozen things. It's like he's the superagent with ADD. And that's not to mention the fact that he falls in love with key agent he's running--although there's nothing convincing in the telling as to why he should do so.
And still more: people don't speak like the way they speak in this novel. This is one of those amateurish endeavors where the author wishes to outline a great deal of background information for the reader by putting into the characters' dialogue--but the problem is that this makes them tell their conversation partners things that, in real life, they would have already known. The dialogue is for the characters, but for the reader. There are more artful ways of getting necessary information to the reader across.
But there actually is no art here. (Reading "Spycatcher" actually led me to appreciate how artful in contrast Ian Fleming really was.) There's no effort of painting with language. All is told unimaginatively, prosaically. The plot is hackneyed. And the "twist" revealed at the end is one that even a blind person could see coming.
Besides, superagents suffer from the same problem as superheroes: they are so "super," you can't believe they're really in any peril.
"Spycatcher" is Mr. Dunn's freshman effort in the thriller business, and maybe in his later novels about Will Cochrane he perfects his craft. But I've got other things to read to distract me from bad TV. Sorry to say, there's nothing authentic here.
I am not fond of protagonists who have near superhuman skills to heal from bad injuries. There's a little too much of that here. But this is a good, ripping tale with a lot of nice twists. It's not a five-star read, but it's a good 4+.
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