Review: Capture or Kill – Tom Marcus

Capture or Kill Tom MarcusMy version: Hardback
Genre: Fiction Britain, counter-terrorism
Macmillan (Pan Macmillan)
First published: 2018
Bought, signed

From the cover:

Matt Logan is an MI5 agent for the British government. Working on the front line of counter-terrorism in the UK, he’s trained to protect its citizens against all threats.

When two brothers known as ‘Iron Sword’ and ‘Stone Fist,’ are suspected of plotting a major terrorist attack, Logan and his team work undercover to track them down. If they fail, what will be unleashed will rock the country to its very core.

Frustrated by always needing to obey the rules, Logan yearns for a way to break through the red tape that hinders their progress. He wishes seem to come true when he is offered the chance to join a new, top-secret unit known as ‘Blindeye.’

Then devastating news reaches Logan, throwing his world into turmoil. But one thing remains certain: he will join the team and become their fiercest, most ruthless operator…

Tom Marcus signature
How tricky is it to write a signature that isn’t your real name?

I’d heard a lot of good things about ‘Tom Marcus‘ (as soon as you hear he is ex-MI5, you can presume that Tom Marcus isn’t his real name), but this was all rather disappointing. If these people are our last line of defence against international terrorism, then we better hope that the first few lines are a lot more professional and thorough. As presented here, it was all too amateurish, though that was partly the stereotypical characterisation of many of the main players. And those code names – that’s a paddlin’

The surveillance operation at the start is however, exceptionally well done. I’d have liked to have seen that developed more, meaning ‘lasted longer.’ Knowing now what his background was before he became MI5, I can see why he was so good at writing those scenes. Sparingly described, but suggesting a whole lot more, the image of life on the cutting edge of On The Streets, is not one you want to be in yourself. The gratitude one feels for someone like him, who does go there, willingly, to protect us, is impossible to avoid. The scenes could have been made longer, more involved to dramatically increase the tension of the processes of the two brothers, and further highlight later, why it was so important to stop them. Unfortunately, the situation that the brothers are setting up, is, I’m sure, one that will be met with a massive “meh!” by more than half of the British populace. I’ll say no more than that it doesn’t end the book in a way that might have rescued it after a limp middle.

The real problem comes fairly early on, with the setting up of this secret unit, by none other than the Director General of MI5 himself. As if… And, as if he would be known as ‘DG.’ And as if it would be so easy to break into his house… But I don’t want to give the game away too much. The ‘frustrations’ that the main character voices, are very similar to those expressed in Lone Survivor, with the ‘if only they’d take the shackles off us’ attitude. The whole Frustrated by always needing to obey the rules is ok for the main man to have, but really needs to be tempered, no matter how onerous the author might feel it to be, by the downside, by consequences. Though, because I’ve seen it in a couple of books recently, and written by authors who were active service members, it has to be a commonly held belief. As Tom Marcus is still working for the MI5, then you have to assume that it isn’t a feeling he himself is allowed to (publicly) buy into, and that the scenario he writes about, is speculating what might happen if there were really ‘shackles’ taken off. It could be that he believes, as the action in the book is successful, that taking the shackles off is better than the situation at the moment, but as a responsible author, not to say current member of the secret services, he has to show the consequences.

I didn’t know there was going to be a recommendation from The Sun on the front when I bought it. If I had, I wouldn’t have…and a review from Kay Burley isn’t helping any either.

You can buy Capture or Kill from The Book Depository

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