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by Bryan Boswell
Piatkus, May 2010
416 pages
7.99 GBP
ISBN: 0749942142

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

This is, without a doubt, a book that I read in spite of the blurb on the back cover, rather than because of it. The cover trails the prospect of yet another 'SAS hard man' looking for retribution, this time on the gang responsible for kidnapping his younger sister and forcing her into prostitution in a Spanish brothel.

Two years ago, Simon Tabor was dishonourably discharged from the army and spent time in prison for killing the man directly responsible for his sister's death, but when he's offered the chance of an official collaboration with DCI Alan Landon in return for information that might lead him to the people ultimately responsible, he allows himself to be persuaded, even though it means violating the terms of his parole and putting his life, as well as his freedom, at risk.

To uncover the truth linking dead prostitutes with a series of brutal murders of men connected with both Romanian brothels and human-trafficking, Tabor must go on the hunt for the significance of a beautiful tattoo of an orchid found on the body of one woman washed up on the Essex coast. A tattoo very similar to one he last saw on his sister's dead body. I was genuinely puzzled by quite how many Romanian brothel owners the UK might possess, when the cover declared that they were being ritually slaughtered around Britain, but Boswell does write convincingly on the subject of human-trafficking, particularly from Eastern Europe.

I think the bit on the back of the book that nearly succeeded in putting me off was the over-blown statement: An unflinching hero and an uncontrollable villain come head to head in this hard-nailed international thriller. But I'm glad I did decide to venture beyond the cover. Simon Tabor makes an interesting protagonist, definitely a hard man, but without any of the irritatingly over-the-top machismo that afflicts many of his ilk.

By the same token, DCI Landon is yet another policeman haunted by his past, including his loveless marriage to a wife close to death from cancer, but Landon and his sidekick, DI Ruth Hartley were well-drawn enough in their own right to draw me back to this author if the book does herald the start of a series.

It was actually more difficult to work out which of the various candidates deserved the title of an uncontrollable villain: the ice-axe wielding Romanian gang boss, his enormous henchman or one of the corrupt millionaires ruthlessly exploiting other human beings in the search for a drug that would have far reaching consequences for the human race. But it didn't really matter. There was enough general murder and mayhem on all sides to ensure the book never dragged as the action moved between England, Scotland and Spain, gathering momentum towards a final, genuinely dramatic confrontation.

I'd be very happy to see Simon Tabor back in action again, and, as I think the author does leave one question deliberately unanswered at the end, I might get my wish.

Linda Wilson is a writer, and retired solicitor, with an interest in archaeology and cave art, who now divides her time between England and France.

Reviewed by Linda Wilson, August 2010

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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