Author: Wilbur Smith with Tom Cain
Publisher: HarperCollinsPublishers
410 pages

I LOVE thrillers. You know the kind of fast-paced, hard hitting edgy stories that leave you almost gasping, wondering what comes next and then (hopefully) cheering for the hero as he races against time to save the day/world/woman. Yes, it’s formulaic but it works quite well. South African author Wilbur Smith has been delivering tales of adventure with a bit of everything thrown in — romance, murder, terrorism and a whole plethora of plots and twists. He has sold more than 120 million books worldwide and Predator, his latest offering, would undoubtedly be sitting quite comfortably on the bestseller list in no time at all.

Another addition to the Hector Cross adventures, the ex-SAS protagonist whom we’re well acquainted with in Those In Peril and Vicious Circle, has since lost his wife to killer Johnny Congo, whom he tracked, found and returned (albeit reluctantly) to the authorities to wield their justice.

Days away from his impending execution, Congo escapes and Cross finds himself in a cat and mouse game with the murderer who’s equally hell bent on getting revenge. Throw in a plot for global domination and terrorism at high waters, you have a tale thick with intrigue, rip-roaring action and a storyline that tries to give Cross more than a one dimensional Rambo-esque image.

A tale of revenge, love lost and brutality that spans continents — from the African oilfields to wintry Alaska — Smith (and Tom Cain who’s also accredited as an author) keeps the pace fast with a lot of back story that would help readers unfamiliar with the previous two books to understand the history between Cross and Johnny Congo. I’m not sure though where Wilbur Smith ends and Tom Cain begins or vice-versa, but never mind who dotted the i(s) and crossed the t(s) — it’s still an entertaining read.

However, I don’t quite care much about the one-dimensional characters (especially the women) portrayed in this story and in all his stories. And then there’s the fact that the story comes across as a little cluttered, with so many characters and roles to keep up with. It comes together eventually in a thrilling climax. I won’t spoil it for you. Grab yourself a copy!

What’s hot: There’s enough action to keep Smith’s fans happy. And hot women. Because Cross always get the hot women, whether they get him or not! Never mind, it’s a fun book to read on a day when you’re in dire need of adrenaline but refuse to go the gym.

What’s not: One-dimensional characters and formulaic storyline but I have to say it works. However, I guess I’ll never be Hector Cross’ type. There’s no room in the book for a chubby heroine with a predilection for doughnuts. That makes me almost want to reach for another doughnut.

First published in the New Straits Times, 11th October, 2016

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