Reading corner: Crisis

Crisis

By Frank Gardner

William Collins

This is the sort of book that grabs you from the get-go. The sort of book that makes you resent other commitments which get in the way of your reading time. And the sort of book that makes you wish your commute was longer.

The debut thriller by the BBC’s Frank Gardner, Crisis delves deep into the murky world of espionage and counter-terrorism, with lashings of action, excitement and rich authenticity thrown in to boot. This blend – which many aspire to but few actually deliver – reflects both the author’s deep and personal experience of the security world, as well as the natural storytelling talent of a hugely talented journalist and reporter.

Our hero is Luke Carlton, former commando with the Royal Navy’s elite Special Boat Service who is now working for British intelligence on some of its most dangerous missions. A fluent Spanish-speaker who was raised in South America, he is deployed to Colombia to find out what happened to a murdered British intelligence officer. Once there, he finds himself catapulted into the maelstrom of an international plot headed by a powerful drug cartel aiming to detonate a “dirty” bomb at a Remembrance Day event in London.

Gardner’s insider knowledge pervades every page. It’s not just the liberal use of acronyms and details of kit that strike home, but also his skill in blending such details with a fast-paced, plausible narrative that grips the reader from the off. When we go behind the scenes we know that the author has been there, done that – meaning at no time do we lose the sense that this is what can really happen in the shadows, away from what is reported on the front page or Gardner’s more familiar piece to camera.

Gardner – who has already been signed up by his publishers for two more thrillers – has found a literary sweet-spot: blending the espionage of Frederick Forsyth or Stella Remington with the action nous of Lee Child or Tom Wood.  It’s a winning combination – and one which leaves his readers hungry for more.