Peter Steward's Web Site
The Last Testament - 22
Sam Bourne is the pseudonym of journalist Jonathan Freedland and this is a half decent thriller novel that sadly falls down in a number of areas.
It has received mixed reviews and it is easy to see why. You could be forgiven for sighing and saying "Not another thriller novel about the unravelling of codes." This is a genre which in effect began with Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code. Numerous authors jumped on the bandwagon and the market was flooded with such books.
Here we enter the world of Israeli/Palestinian conflicts. An historic deal is about to be signed but a man rushes towards the Israeli Prime Minister at a rally. He is known to be an opponent of the prime ministers and is shot dead. In his hand is not a gun but a piece of paper.
American/Irish peace negotiator Maggie Costello gives up her quiet life to return to international intrigue in an attempt to keep both sides on track. Unfortunately Maggie spends little time acting as a diplomat, but plenty searching for an elusive tablet that hides a remarkable truth.
Bourne's can't quite make up his mind whether this should be an adventure novel or a more serious attempt to shed some light on the Israeli/Palestine conflict. It therefore drops somewhere between the two. The politics of the area are difficult to comprehend and Bourne seems to get bogged down in this fact with large passages that are difficult to understand within the context of the story as a whole. That said it is a page turner and a reasonable attempt to bring to life the feel of the area, but there is still something missing although it is certainly well researched.
The Righteous Men - 23
I preferred this book to The Last Testament as it was less contrived and didn't seem to wander as much. Bourne sticks more to the central plot, although at times it can become rather rambling and I'm not sure how many more meaning of life type code books I want to read.
This is a decently written thriller, however, with a fairly taut plot and well researched background into the Jewish faith amongst other things. At times I tended to lose interest but at least the author always brought me back and the final few chapters flew by and the ending wasn't as disappointing as some I have read.
The plot is pretty implausible, however, although I won't give it away for those still to read the book. I found the characters much more believable than in The Last Testament and Bourne seemed to be more comfortable with them here. I suggest if you don't expect too much, but enjoy a fast paced thriller, this is decent enough.
The Final Reckoning - 26
Adventure thrillers don't come much better than this. Okay I know some people will read this and think it absolute rubbish but I'm not one of them. Perhaps it isn't cool to like this kind of book but it is undeniably well researched and I finished it in a little over a day, finding it hard to put down when I should have been doing other things.
I have always had this nagging question in my mind about the Holocaust about why the Jews never put up a fight and why they never really retaliated against the German nation at the end of the war. This book helps to show that indeed they did plot and retaliate.
Essentially it is the story of resistance. A seemingly innocent elderly man is shot and killed by a security guard at the United Nations building in New York. It looks like a dreadful case of mistaken identity. Slowly, however, details begin to emerge that show him to be anything but innocent.
There follows an intricate story that twists and turns and which is not only compulsive reading but thought provoking as well. This is the best Sam Bourne novel to date - less convoluted than his previous offerings.
My only complaint is about the corny and hackneyed relationship between the two main characters in the book. It seems Bourne is incapable of writing about main characters who aren't 1/ good looking and sexy and 2/ end up having an affair. It might be what the readers are expecting but it has become rather old hat.
The Chosen One - 20
Comments I made about relationships in The Final Reckoning being old hat continue in this book. Do we really need yet another thriller about a fictitious President of the USA.
Ultimately this is a thriller about power broking but it rather rambles and the ending came as no real surprise. There is a cleverness in the plot but overall the book lacks the depth of the previous novel - almost as if the author is going through the motions and trying to use American slang to prove that, despite being British, he can write an engrossing novel about the USA.
Once again it follows the fortunes of Maggie Costello and her attempts to clear the President's name after various slurs against him. I found the first sections of the book tedious. It did [pick up pace in the latter third and provided a decent read, but overall left a lot to be desired.