Sunday, 18th March 2018
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Author Tom Callaghan: Published by Quercus : Price e18.90

Akyl Borubaev has been given a directive by the National Chief of Internal Security of his home country, Kyrgyzstan, to go to Dubai and find a woman by the name of Natasha. She is the former girlfriend of the Chief and seemingly she has run off with information that could be dangerous to the man and he is not happy about it.

Akyl is no fool and knows that it isn't information that the woman has run off with but money and it must be quite a lot of it to get the Chief so worked up. The thing is that Akyl doesn't want to go particularly but he isn't given much choice, when the Chief says jump you just ask 'how high'? So he heads to Dubai with nothing more than just a name of a contact there and a photograph of the very good looking Natasha.

As soon as he gets into Dubai he is in trouble, finding the corpse of a man who was supposed to give him some armaments. There is one thing about this novel and it is something that happens all the way through, it is very violent, very graphically violent.

But at the same time it is the sort of violent that you see in films quite a lot where the hero or anti-hero survives every single time. There are some occasions in the book where you think that Akyl is not going to survive this one and there he is like a cat with 21 lives, breathingat the end of it all.

It isn't necessarily a criticism of the novel but it does take away some of the suspense when Akyl yet again walks away from another round of graphic violence with the latest protagonists in the book. But Akyl does track down Natasha pretty quickly but she proves to be far cleverer than he gives her credit for and before you know it she has him handcuffed to a bed with compromising photos of both of them taken that she can blackmail him with.

But the two of them get talking and Akyl is able to convince her that he is on her side, which he is to some extent. The point is that he is not the only one looking for her. Some Chechen terrorists hiding out in Dubai also know what is going on and want the money she has. And there is someone on their tale as well, an off and on again lover of Akyl, called Saltanat who is an Uzbek assassin.

Everything comes to a head and more violence, even more than previously, ensues with very few survivors. If you let the violence aside what this book will remind you more than anything of is a Raymond Chandler novel.

It has the same first person narrative, the same cadence of speech and the same cynicism with a real heart beating behind it. This is the third novel in a quartet of books featuring Akyl Borubaev and it is going to be a real pity when they are over.


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