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SCARECROW by Matthew Reilly Kirkus Star


by Matthew Reilly

Pub Date: March 24th, 2004
ISBN: 0-312-28958-8
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Third installment in the way, way over-the-top action adventures of US Marine Shane “Scarecrow” Schofield, and the best yet from this Australian author (Contest, 2003, etc.).

Called Scarecrow because of his disfigured eyes, Schofield and a crack crew of Delta Force soldiers rush to a Siberian sub repair base that’s been overrun by Islamic terrorists who have seized a cache of nuclear missiles. But instead of terrorists, Schofield finds a trap set by competing teams of international bounty hunters who’ve already killed two Delta Force soldiers on an $18.6 million-per-head kill list that also has Schofield’s name on it. The list of 15 super-soldiers, spies, scientists and one terrorist was complied by Majestic 12, a secret council of supremely rich multinational military industrial complex tycoons who not only buy and sell governments but have been responsible for every late-20th-century conspiracy from the assassination of JFK to Clinton’s impeachment trial—except for 9/11. Thus begins a serious of breathless, thoroughly contrived, but immensely entertaining action scenes in which Schofield, fellow soldiers Libby Gant, Book II, and Mother join with bounty hunter Aloysius Knight (being paid by an anonymous client to protect Schofield) and Knight’s trusty pilot Rufus as they take on killer sharks, fancy sports cars, helicopters, jet aircraft, a supertanker, an entire aircraft carrier, X-15 rocket planes, and the combined air forces of five African nations to stop a plot to pit rival countries against each other and plunge the world into anarchy. The action is so accomplished that we don’t care about cheesy Star Wars dialogue, as when Jay Killian, the Ralph Lauren–wearing head of a multinational arms-manufacturing company, mercilessly guillotines one of Schofield’s buddies and Schofield vows to “kill them all.” An endless stream of interchangeable bad guys wind up “deader than disco,” and everyone agrees when the US President intones of Schofield that “the fate of the free world could be resting on that man’s shoulders.”

Superb print version of a video game shoot-’em-up.