In this thriller, a private investigator and former Royal Marine tries to thwart a terrorist group that is planning a major strike in 1988 London.
A terrorist wave has been making its way through Britain for six months with a series of attacks. When multimillionaire Solomon Goldstein loses his oldest daughter in a nightclub bombing, he hires private investigator George Grant. Grant, after all, has more incentive than the coppers: his lover, Joanne Schaeffer, to whom Grant had planned to propose, also died from injuries sustained in the blast. The detective works with Scotland Yard and later with MI6, which was already monitoring Grant. It appears a Middle Eastern faction, the International Freedom Fighters Council, is orchestrating the terrorist assaults. But Grant’s trip to Egypt to see an expert on Middle Eastern affairs turns sideways, as he eventually winds up in a gunfight and on trial for murder. Grant soon realizes that more than one person is responsible for Joanne’s death. A secret group of individuals using code names, headed by the Tailor (known in the Middle East as The Grim Reaper), appears to be behind everything and includes at least one traitorous government official. With only a few people he can trust, Grant must stop the Scorpion’s Sting, the terrorists’ planned ––and imminent––catastrophe. This gleefully convoluted novel features a bevy of characters and twists; Grant even jokes that he’s perplexed about whom he’s working for. Readers won’t be confused, however, as Ritchie (Sleaze, 2015) maintains a clear, direct narrative, despite its density. Though perhaps he does this a bit too thoroughly; characters constantly updating others repeat certain plot points too often. But the story’s a perpetual sprint, Grant dodging bullets and vicious dogs, with a couple of surprising double crosses. Ritchie grounds his fictional tale with a historical backdrop: Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher makes appearances, as does the newly formed al-Qaida. The exhilarating final act is bolstered by a deadline, with Grant aware of the upcoming date for the London attack. But a detective story also runs throughout, and the book holds off identifying more than one of those unknown baddies until the story’s nearly over.
A private eye/spy protagonist who, like this multi-genre tale, excels at both.