Australian spy Luthan Fennes returns for his third outing in Angliss’ (Stingerbones, 2013, etc.) thriller series, this time to find who’s behind the bombings of German embassies throughout the world.
Australian Security Intelligence Organisation operative Fennes, aka the Retimer, is in Ankara, Turkey, looking into connections between Turkey’s German Embassy and recent bombings at the German Embassy in Australia. He doesn’t prevent another bombing, but he does uncover info on Johann Weber, who works at the embassy and may have been a contact for the bombers. While Turkish police believe Fennes is responsible for the bombings, he searches for the person who ordered the embassy attacks. After Fennes narrowly escapes an assassination attempt, villagers save the injured man, and he returns the favor by tracking down Asli, a victim of human traffickers who’s been missing for two years. Angliss’ writing style takes some getting used to; he’s prone to uncommon words—e.g., “refaced” (here, meaning to face someone or something again)—and strange wording, as when Fennes “entered the Internet” on his mobile phone. But the espionage, reminiscent of James Bond novels, is centered on the protagonist’s mental capacity over physical prowess. Even the action scenes, of which there are quite a few, are meticulously plotted; it’s less about Fennes’ instinctual reaction than a distinct assessment each time someone shoots at him or tosses a grenade in his direction. Fennes also manages a great deal of chic: He’s often adorned in a black suit and tie (for that matter, so are many of the villains) and drives a top-of-the-line vehicle, like a BMW or his souped-up Rallyon, which he equates with the “famous modern Batmobile.” Asli acts as a romantic interest of sorts, but Fennes’ apparent love for a woman he hardly knows seems out of place and happens so quickly that it’s not very believable. Angliss takes his hero on an adventure around the globe—Moscow, Iraq, North Korea—and he augments his story with humor and dishy one-liners, as when an ensnared suspect threatens to kill Fennes and the spy nonchalantly responds, “I’ve heard that a million times.”
Genre fans will savor the espionage and political intrigue while cheering a spy who can dodge bullets with sophistication.