In Warburton's debut novel, a village massacre in Vietnam by U.S. operatives ignites new violence 30 years later, and reunites a lone survivor with her rescuer.
Tom Warburton is a member of the British army who's been living under an assumed identity in Australia for the past three decades. He was forced into this exile after his small Special Air Service unit killed a band of CIA-led soldiers in Vietnam who were attempting to brutalize a young Vietnamese girl—the only survivor of a village the Americans destroyed. The CIA, however, blames the village massacre on Tom's unit. After Tom went into hiding, his only comfort was a secret correspondence with Sue, the girl he helped rescue, who's now a member of the Malaysian Secret Service. She and Tom carry on a long-distance romantic relationship. But the promotion of Richard Macauley, the son of an agent killed that infamous day in the jungle, means that Tom and Sue are once again in the CIA's crosshairs. As the couple avoids Richard's vengeance, they get a chance to expose the horrors perpetrated on Sue's family, and also finally live a life together. Warburton's debut thriller hits all the usual thriller notes, taking its characters to locations all over the world for hushed conversations and violent confrontations. The CIA operatives make truly despicable villains; although not all of Macauley's agents are as malevolent as he is, their cutthroat methods are no less sickening. The novel manages to capture the tangible regret in Tom and Sue's relationship; the time that they're forced to live apart feels tragic, even when compared to the destruction of the village. Despite this, the book is plagued by subject and tense confusion, inconsistent and often incorrect punctuation ("Is the girl OK Tom. Get her to safety mate for me"), and numerous, distracting typos ("We are human as well mam"). Run-on sentences are common, but not in a way that suggests any unique narrative voice, and the end result is an inscrutable tangle that works against the suspense.
A promising premise, lost in clumsy prose that fosters more confusion than intrigue.
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