Ruppert’s debut thriller chronicles the heroic exploits of a clandestine group of seven men.
The Seven Watchmen are a group of European ex-military men on a mission to destabilize a ruthless Zimbabwean dictator who destroyed his nation’s economy by systematically killing off white farmers, on whom the nation’s food supply was dependent. When a Zimbabwean official is assassinated, the dictator finds an opportunity to influence the upcoming American presidential election, as well as political fortunes in the U.K. The CIA and British government officials race to keep their respective leaders out of the fray, while the Watchmen manipulate policy through extraordinary measures. Thomas Streich, a bored IRS lawyer and ex-military man who has grown disgusted by the complacency and cowardice found in modern politics and society, is charged with figuring out the whole mess; readers pull together the disparate strands of the intricate plot through his eyes. Ruppert deserves credit for finding a way to keep the action in order, yet there are some missteps. When one character’s sexual orientation is revealed late in the book, it comes off as a lazy way to make him seem even more morally corrupt—an idea that had already been fairly well established. An additional romantic plotline conveniently blossoms when another character needs to be introduced. There’s also a strong underlying message that society has fallen prey to “political correctness”—anything from being unmanly to allowing women to serve in the military. This characterization is integral to the novel’s portrayal of heroes and villains, which some readers are likely to find offensive. The book employs a sophisticated vocabulary and writing style that’s mostly effective, save for a few stiff lines of dialogue. Ruppert repeatedly starts scenes without identifying all of the characters present, even after they’ve spoken; it’s an unoriginal way to manufacture drama, and a trick that Ruppert’s story doesn’t need. However, the flaws don’t amount to much more than a distraction in this otherwise entertaining thriller with a distinct point of view.
Fans of John Le Carré will appreciate this solid effort.