his one was a tough one to review. Not because I had a difficult time with it or couldn’t find anything positive, but because I’ve got a sick wife. Five times, when I started the review, we had a crisis. The sixth was today. So now she’s settled. And now I can review.
Drones. This is what the book is about. The liberal bugaboo, the conservative uncertainty. Drones.
Yeah, so there is a fellow raising cain out in the Middle East somewhere, the Preacher. He’s calling for Jihad with untraceable internet speeches. All one needs to do to go to paradise is to kill one important westerner. Someone in government, someone in power. Just kill someone. And so someones start getting picked off, a body at the time.
Tasked to go after him is the Tracker (okay, so the names make it easy to keep them apart), tasked with using his powers to track this guy down and end him. Of course, one of the victims was his own father, a retired military officer, shot while golfing. As the back flap notes, now it’s personal.
When I started reading this, I found it Ritz-dry. It was more reporting than storytelling, just an account of who the Tracker was, what his qualifications were, and how he operated. In fact, initially there was very little of the tense spycraft associated with this genre. Just the guy recruiting people he needed, putting things into place, and working the leads to discover the Preacher.
At first, it didn’t seem like there was going to be anything remotely like a story here – no mistakes, no blunders, no setbacks. I was beginning to wonder what the point was. Then we introduced a freighter getting grabbed by Somali pirates and things started getting muddled. While the heroes retained all the aces here (the Preacher never really knew how close the heroes were until his door got kicked in), it was still interesting.
One thing I will say – I was a bit anti-drone going into this book. Drones are bad, right? But while I’ll admit there are concerns with them, they are amazing tools as well. Able to remain on station for hours, and piloted from half-a-world away, the book shows how well they fit into counter-terrorist operations. There is one bit where a mole in the terrorist organization needs to let the forces for good know the target is present. To do this, he simply walks out into the center of the compound at a specific time and nods. Dozens of miles away and sixty thousand feet up, the orbiting drone notes his signal. The plan is put into motion.
So what am I saying there? Well, simply this: while The Kill List isn’t Macbeth, it was sharp enough to present the advantages of drones that it might have changed my mind a bit. I’m not sure I like the idea of the general public videoing each other with Radio Shack drones, or even Amazon flying merchandise-crap right to your door, but I can see their use here. It was interesting.
So, yes, if you are looking for a fairly solid spycraft novel set on the cutting edge of today, I would recommend The Kill List.