Even hard-bitten security consultants can get in over their heads, as is made clear in Boyle’s novel introducing the team of Miles Warwick and Lucy Clewes.
London is gearing up for the 2012 Olympics as the narrative begins, and Warwick—a former soldier looking to make ends meet for himself and his employees—is trying to drum up business beyond the occasional bouncer gig. Enter Lucy Clewes, a beautiful private investigator with top-flight skills and academic credentials, a politically connected family and an unusual gift: a super-sharp sense of smell, thanks to brain damage suffered in a collision. Lucy is investigating the disappearance of an antiques dealer and suspects sinister happenings, so she hires Warwick to watch her back while she investigates. What starts off as a simple missing persons case soon blossoms into an international smuggling ring involving stolen Russian art and millions of dollars, and when all the players on the board become visible at the Olympic opening ceremonies—the CIA, MI6 and the Russian mafia, among them—Warwick and Clewes find that security is difficult to come by. Boyle’s novel starts strong, with a sure sense of the characters and their voices, but the plot is immensely complicated, and the efforts to make clear what’s happening and who’s pulling which strings at any given time makes the progression fitful, advancing in starts and stops rather than the well-machined flow demanded by thrillers. An excess of comma splices and run-on sentences further muddies the water, particularly in some of the longer dialogue stretches, making it difficult to parse the emotional content of certain scenes.
While the bare bones of the plot and the characters are inherently interesting, much retooling and polishing of the basic elements would be needed to make the story function as a workable thriller.