on 5 December 2012
"Friends from Damascus" wasn't quite what I was expecting. Given the way the author touts his real-world experience in a bio at the front of the ebook, I was anticipating a realistic, if action-packed, spy thriller along the lines of Robert Ludlum, or perhaps the new Taken films. Instead, "Friends from Damascus" is more like James Bond: there are definite good guys and bad guys, everything was very clearly black and white, and the good guys are exceptionally good at what they do - killing the bad guys. "Nothing wrong with that!" I hear you cry - and no, there isn't, nor is that why I'm only giving the book three stars, unlike its sequels, which I enjoyed more.
I think Happy was still finding his feet somewhat as an author with this work, as it felt unbalanced in several ways. Some scenes dragged on much longer than they needed to, and a lot of the supporting case felt fairly bland in comparison with the leads, who were phenomenal at quite literally /every/ skill they might conceivably need, as well as multilingual, charismatic, and stunningly attractive to boot. There were also some plot developments (I won't say which - despite its flaws, it's still worth a read) that felt a little forced, but all in all it was still an enjoyable read, and, for the price I paid (£2.54), not a bad investment. Plot? Three stars. Execution? Two-and-a-half. If you're looking to suspend your disbelief for a spy-thriller romp that won't cost the Earth, go for it.