“Defender” by Chris Allen – A Review

DEFENDER_mrDefender by Chris Allen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I started reading Defender just a few days ago. The fact that I have now finished reading it is very significant! I am not a fast reader, not by any stretch of the imagination. That’s a fact I always make very clear when asked to review a book. In this instance, I wasn’t actually asked to read Defender but I so enjoyed it, how could I not do so?

Those who have read my reviews know hat I say little that’s specific about storylines. I have no desire to give away anything of importance to potential readers – and how can I know what they think is important. So I’ll stick to my formula!

Defender introduces us to the shadowy Interpol branch: Intrepid. It launches us into the violent, tangled-web world that combines espionage, soldiering and policing. The agents are hard, efficient people dedicated to a cause: the protection of the innocent, whatever the cost, whatever the means. The world has turned hard and harsh. Criminals are just a small part of the tapestry of threat. Terrorists, brutal governments that don’t respect their own people let alone international law, arms dealers, drug dealers, business cartels interested in profit at any price, government agencies that cross the line between national interest and criminality. These are the shadows that Intrepid’s agents must navigate through, bringing justice, one way or another. And here, in Defender, we meet Alex Morgan, one of Intrepid’s best agents, locked in a battle to bring the coldest and most dangerous of criminals to book. A country wrecked to satisfy corporate and personal greed, a rogue with no loyalties except to himself, cravens and the callous. And behind it all, that corporate entity which directs it all. Caught up in it all are the thousands of innocent victims of a nation thrown into savage chaos, bystanders with no part in any of it, and a few brave ones, like Alex Morgan, other Intrepid agents, police forces as dedicated as those of Intrepid, and a young woman, Arena Hall, hurled into this most dangerous of environments.

Death stalks the pages of this book. Sudden, violent death. Can Alex Morgan and his comrades and friends bring justice where it is due? Only time will tell. But the campaign will travel across half the world, until it culminates in stunning climactic action in Sydney. Success and failure are never more than a heartbeat apart.

I had great trouble putting this book aside, for any reason! It’s a breathless ride, with very few opportunities to relax. Would I recommend it? Do apples grow on trees? This is one of those books which I will treasure as part of my library! I can only offer my strongest recommendation to anybody who likes to feel their pulse occasionally! Yes, there are moments when you may be made to feel uncomfortable, but know that those passages reflect an ugly reality we are (mostly) protected from. This is a book for adult readers who enjoy the very best writing.

Five stars? I’d double that if I could!

View all my reviews

~ Steve

See also:
Review of “Hunter” (Intrepid #2)
The Intrepid Chris Allen

Hunter (Intrepid #2) by Chris Allen: A Book Review

HUNTER_mr First, I should say that I was provided with a copy of Hunter, in ebook format, for review purposes.  This has not influenced my review.  Hunter isn’t in a genre that I read often.  I am, however, willing to venture beyond my normal bounds to some degree.

Hunter is a thriller of a very modern type, featuring the ex-SAS hero, Major Alex Morgan.  A member of Interpol’s covert Intrepid branch, he is called upon to carry out operations that the usual force is not equipped for.  In this novel, he is pitted against Serbian war criminals turned gangsters, from the dreadful days of the Balkans Conflict, who have eluded the law for too long.  And those Serbians are brutally ruthless.  In an effort to undermine the law, the worst of the Serbs, Drago, has threatened the judges and their families.  Intrepid must track down Drago and bring him and his organisation down, and Alex Morgan is at the heart of the operation.

Mr Allen uses variable length chapters very effectively, creating an almost documentary style account.  There are times when the tale races along, but Mr Allen also succeeds in portraying the long, tedious hours spent waiting and watching, or the vast amount of research, intelligence gathering and information co-ordination that goes into any operation involving law enforcement.  His characters are well developed and easy to like or despise, depending on which side of the fence they’re on.  Alex Morgan is very able but no superman.  His comrades in Intrepid are human, with all which that entails.  A particularly strong character is ‘the Wolf’, whose brutal efficiency as an assassin and enforcer for Drago has become legendary, who is a sinister figure pacing through the shadows behind the action.  Refreshingly, there is genuine cooperation between the law enforcement agencies of all the countries involved – not the constant petty politics of jurisdiction and national ego so often portrayed in books and on film.  When the climactic moment comes, you find yourself wishing the action was more prolonged, but of course that would be contrary to what special operations are all about.  They deal in seconds not minutes, minutes not hours.  Anything else could be catastrophic.

A tale of cold-blooded ruthlessness (from both sides), treachery, courage, cowardice, avarice and lust for power, Hunter has everything the thriller aficionado could wish for.  Yes, it took me a while to read, but then I’m a slow reader and I wanted to do justice to a brand new book in a genre I rarely visit.  I found it easy to read, partly thanks to that clever use of chapters varying wildly in length, according to content.  To me, the story passed a very important test: I began picturing the characters and locations as I read!  There is enough detail for both to give a firm base, and sufficient unsaid to allow the imagination to do the rest.  The second test was passed, too: there were times when I read far more than I meant to, and certainly for longer than the time I had available!

I can happily award Hunter five stars!  In fact, now I’m left wanting to read more of these tales…

You can find out more about Mr Allen and his books on his website.

~ Steve