James Bond is a great entertainer, but I wonder how good he would be if he was outside his comfort zone. Like dealing with a burst pipe or repairing a hole in the plasterwork. Yes, I know Bond in the movies is very different to Iain Fleming’s novels on which they are based, but it’s the celluloid version that most of us think of when we think of 007.
Where would Bond be without his network of fellow spies, round the clock access to the latest satellite images and the fact that Q always gives him just the right gadget to get him out of a tight spot about half an hour later?
With Daniel Craig in the title role the producers have done their best to bring Bond up to date but these days he faces stiff competition from a range of cinematic heros such as Jason Bourne. Think who you’d prefer to be stuck on a desert island with, and I think you’ll agree that Bourne is more likely than Bond to be able to knock up a shelter out of driftwood and put food and water on the table before sunset. Mr Bond would probably be trekking to the top of the nearest mountain in search of a mobile phone signal.
I wouldn’t be surprised if an enterprising film producer somewhere puts Carter Blake on the screen. Blake is the protagonist in Mason Cross’s latest book, The Time To Kill. Blake is a man who lives on the edges of normal society. He used to work for a government organisation so secret that even its staff weren’t sure it existed. Silence was the price he paid for being allowed to leave the organisation but things have changed, and someone wants to silence him permanently.
This pacey thriller jumps from scene to scene with cinematic speed as Blake and his pursuers pass through shopping malls, airports, high tech offices and along freeways. Just when he appears to be cornered, quick-thinking and ingenuity allows Blake to stay one step ahead.
But who is trying to kill him, and can he find them before they find him?
A cracking read which will have you searching out the previous books featuring Carter Blake: The Killing Season and The Samaritan. Scottish author Mason Cross manages to create a strong sense of place, allowing the reader to picture the American landscapes through which the story develops.