*I received a free e-copy of this book in return for an honest review as part of a review competition by Books and the Bear.*
I normally avoid thriller novels, especially if they have the word ‘spy’ anywhere in the blurb, but I confess that this book had me hooked from the Prologue. It provided just the right amount of characterisation, background and plot set-up to be intriguing without giving away what the actual plot would be or falling into lengthy descriptive prose.
I found myself immediately invested in the welfare of the protagonist, Nadia, and her gangster-trapped sister, Katya, and her 5 year arrangement with said gangster, Kadinsky, in exchange for their lives makes it clear what the stakes are, so when the story begins 5 years later, we know with instant narrative tension that she is on the last hurdle. The job involves a massive international threat, but for the participating characters it is definitely a personal affair.
From reading the information about the author, I am aware that he is a diver, and combined with the title of the novel, I was concerned that things were going to get overly technical, but I needn’t have worried on that count. The information provided is clear, in context and not too overwhelming…a tricky balance well-achieved. I actually found myself fascinated by the dive sequences and the potential for watery disaster was a clever addition to the human threats for ratcheting up the reader anxiety.
In terms of supporting characters, the author has kept it relatively simple and therefore easy to follow in the heat of the action: the tragic hero ally, the rogue CIA agent, the sadistic torturer and the regretful assassin are Nadia’s main competition for narrative point of view. Other disposable friends, divers and skippers are named but not overly dwelt upon, keeping the focus tight on the plotline. The switching of narrative viewpoint is effective as it shows even the most ‘evil’ character can have some sympathetic traits once you see their motives through their own eyes.
Having said I’m not a thriller fan, I could not stop reading. I just had to see where this book went, and unusually for me (I’m a good guesser with so many previous books in my memory banks to draw on) I had no idea how the characters would resolve the challenges they faced, who would survive, or how it would all end.
I’m happy to say that it ended with some big questions unresolved…setting things up nicely for the next instalment in what I hope is a long series!
Nadia had her father’s eyes. Killer’s eyes, he’d once joked, when she’d been too young to realise it was a confession.
– J. F. Kirwan, 66 Metres