Customer Review

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Who is kidding whom?, 14 Feb 2013
This review is from: The Spycatcher (Spycatcher 1) (Paperback)
Is Matthew Dunn a hoax?

I'll offer my thoughts on plot construction and writing style in a moment, but meanwhile, how about a spot of verisimilitude?

The cover blurb describes M.D. as, inter alia,'trained by SIS in... small arms... significant experience (with) SAS... joint operations with MI5, GCHQ and the CIA'. So, for a moment, let's concentrate on small arms.

Have you ever fired a 9mm pistol, let alone a .45? OK, we are supposed to believe that hero Will Cochrane is an █ber-Superman, as is his worthy opponent, code name Megiddo (gerrit?) but how does even hero W.C. hit targets over distances like that with a handgun? How does Megiddo fire from way outside pistol accuracy, along a corridor ablaze with flame (so what does the target look like to the shooter?) in such a way that his round, intentionally, grazes the temple of W.C. instead of blowing his cerebellum out the back of his cranium? (If not missing altogether.)

In the opening chapter, W.C. takes three rounds through the stomach. Next chapter, he gets up and starts throwing his weight around. Wait one...

The guy(s) shooting him through the stomach (sic) are not at point-blank range. How, then, do they put all three rounds through the stomach while avoiding the liver, spleen, colon, kidneys... need I go on?

Let's assume they are all through the stomach, and that all three rounds go in and out cleanly without touching bone (spinal column) which would cause secondary projectiles,i.e. shards of bone that can spoil a trauma surgeon's entire day. The first hit - the author tells us - leaves 'a large exit wound in his abdomen'. Spotted the deliberate mistake yet?

Dead right. No mention of blood loss from a 'large exit wound'. OK, then add two more similar. Still no mention of blood loss. Nor any mention that stomach contents (never mind colon, and we're giving the author the benefit of the doubt that the colon wasn't touched) include, for want of a more technical expression, rattlesnake poison, which, on release into the body, cause symptoms akin to rattlesnake bite.

Right, this book is an achievement. It's achieved non-suspension of disbelief in the first half-dozen pages. Now let's have a look at plot construction.

A reviewer named Mr U. Thakkar (who has my utmost respect) points out many of the plot's shortcomings and contradictions. I can only underscore what Thakkar says, adding simply the question: What kind of secret agent gets conned by almost every person he meets? What kind of person would be given the sort of job allocated to W.C. when the panel that interviewed him for the job must have recognised the naive nature of the man, illustrated in the utterly unquestioning love that he bestows on heroine/villainess Lana?

OK, style. Frederick Forsyth is wooden, we've known that for years. Mr Dunn seems, rather, to be leaden. I am a keen thriller reader, and I had to force myself through this book the way I'd force myself through a couple of chapters of Kierkegaard in the original Danish.

And the dialogue! Mr Dunn - there is no polite way to express this - has a tin ear for dialogue. Otherwise, how can he put such extraordinary speech into the mouths of his characters? How are we supposed to believe that, in the climactic conversation between Megiddo and W.C., the two men would simply discuss operations instead of whacking the other one before he can whack you?

I believe Orion Books and Luigi Bonomi agents have been hoodwinked. I cannot fathom how someone with the slightest acquaintance with - to start with - small arms can make such elementary goofs. Human physiology ditto. I do not believe Mr Dunn has so much as crossed the threshold of his nearest Territorial Army depot. And as for that bit about MI6, SAS, CIA and all the bit - do you really believe that?
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