Who killed the people’s princess? Could be this debut novel’s hard-hitting assassin for hire.
Pseudonymous author Cain, a British journalist, crafts a disarming, exhilarating thriller that conjectures how the car crash that killed Princess Diana, never directly named here, might have been set up. Cain’s protagonist Samuel Carver is an old-school S.O.B., a tightly wound former soldier who orchestrates fatal mishaps for the world’s cutthroats. A killer with standards, he’s happy to, say, eliminate an Albanian people-trafficker by helicopter sabotage, but balks at wasting a Pakistani terrorist because the hit includes the power broker’s girlfriend. Pressed by his shadowy handler Max, Carver agrees to arrange yet another death, this time in the Pont de l’Alma Tunnel. After fulfilling his mission, he escapes only to find that he’s been hung out to dry. When Carver is cornered by a brutal Russian counterpart named Grigori Kursk, he shoots first and snatches his comely associate Alix Petrova so he can ask questions later. Now the Russians, the British Secret Service and Kursk all want Carver’s head. Cain writes with steely confidence, delivering rousing action sequences ranging from a chase through the sewers of Paris to a torturous denouement straight out of Casino Royale. What holds it all together is the book’s flawed but convincing hero—a man gripped equally by lust, guilt, greed and wrath. “Who’s to say who’s good or bad,” he muses. When the bullets are flying and the writing is this taut, it doesn’t much matter.
A first-rate, breakneck adventure.