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by Chris Fox
Hutchinson, July 2005
400 pages
ISBN: 0091794994

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

THE DEVIL'S HALO has at its centre a breathtaking idea for a thriller. It's set in the not-too-distant future with a different world order. Germany is on its knees, NATO is no more, and a European federation, led by France and Russia are challenging the United States.

Terry Weston is an agent for one of the CIA's secret operations. He's an experienced operator in Europe, but this time he and scientist wife Maria find the stakes are so much higher.

What's at stake is space. The Europeans don't want to play second fiddle to the Americans any longer, and have devised a scheme which will sabotage US defences. Terry and Maria, careering round Russia and France, must stop them.

Boy, does this book need a cut or six! Firstly, there's a surfeit of techie talk. And secondly Fox lets his enthusiasm run away with him, so later on when the action is in over-drive, he dilutes the effect by cross-cutting to too many venues and too many people. Suddenly there's an avalanche of different points of view which for me lost a lot of the tension that Fox had so carefully built up.

The book is at its best when Terry and Maria are centre-stage, and I'd have liked to have seen it rooted firmly in Terry's point of view all through. He's a smart-mouthed, intrepid character who you'd want on your side in a crisis. Maria is bright and sparky and to the fore when they plan and execute an incredible escape from Russia.

The scenes with Rodin, the former KGB torturer, are truly scary, and he and Terry could easily have carried the book without the cast of thousands interfering quite so much.

The final twist is a real 'eh? you wot?' from way out of leftfield which I'm not quite convinced plays fair with the reader. Once you've blinked a few times, shaken your head and made yourself a strong cup of tea, the final realisation is shocking and very poignant.

I think it's fair to say that your take on who is the real baddie will depend greatly in what part of the world you live. But THE DEVIL'S HALO is an intelligent thriller which may make you think twice about the world order and where all the international posturing is leading us.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, October 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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