Kernick, Simon - 'Target'
TARGET is the latest (and eighth) novel from Simon Kernick. A previous novel, RELENTLESS, was a 'Richard and Judy' selected novel. As a new entry this week into the paperback chart, Target has already reached number two. Does it deserve its place?
After a short scene-setting prologue, Rob Fallon, meets up with an old girlfriend Jenny, on a night out with his friend. But when he goes back to her flat, she is abducted, and he barely escapes with his life. He tells the police, and a female detective, Tina, investigates. But when they go back to the flat they find that it has been miraculously cleaned and tidied. No evidence of the abduction remains, the porter on duty that night claims he didn't see them, the CCTV footage does not appear to show Jenny and Rob entering the apartment block and Jenny's father claims she has gone away on holiday. Despite all this, Tina feels that Rob might be telling the truth. Her old colleague Mike Bolt in the Serious and Organised Crime Agency advises her to have the CCTV footage analysed, and she finds it has been tampered with.
Somewhere, something big appears to be underway, and whoever is behind the kidnapping is ruthlessly removing any obstacles in his way. The main henchman manages to kill quite a few people to make sure the plan can go ahead. After a second kidnapping, Mike Bolt gets involved and he and his team start to uncover what is really going on, with the automatic number plate recognition system (ANPR) playing a key role in tracking down the kidnappers. But why was Jenny kidnapped? And why is her father claiming that she is away on holiday?
This is a fast moving thriller, hooking in the reader and taking them along for the ride. However, when the reason for the kidnapping and violence was eventually revealed, I have to say I was not convinced. Moreover, because of various plot developments, the story shifts from Rob's perspective to Tina's and then to Mike Bolt's and this shifting of the main character detracts from the story somewhat, as the reader has to shift alliances. There is some rather daft superhuman strength displayed at various points in the book, as well as superhuman cleaning (and body removing) powers. The man behind the kidnapping and his henchmen bear strong resemblances to the villains in a James Bond movie. But, putting all that aside, and suspending disbelief, it is an entertaining read, with some good twists in the plot, probably justifying its high entry into the paperback chart. I'm just not sure it would make the Richard and Judy shortlist this time.
Michelle Peckham, England