Magson, Adrian - 'The Watchman'
Marc Portman is involved in close protection of people who need to be safely guarded. There are apparently two kinds of close protection, firstly there is the kind that is effectively a bodyguard, a visible barrier to a would be attacker. The other is an outer shield - a shadow-deliberately out of sight but with a wider view of the area around the principal or protectee. In other words a 'Watchman'.
Experienced Secret Intelligence Officer Thomas Vale has to attend a meeting of a sub-committee at MI6 HQ in Vauxhall Cross, London where he hears that a relatively inexperienced female intelligence operative is to be sent into war-torn Somali, accompanied by a military bodyguard in order to negotiate with some terrorists and obtain the release of some aid workers. He is very disturbed by what he hears from the MI6 Operations Director Colin Moresby, who is the bureaucrat in charge of this operation. He believes it is a very poorly thought out operation with absolutely no back-up plan if any thing goes wrong. However, Vale is near retirement and his views are not considered of importance by Moresby. After the meeting Vale discusses the matter with James Scheider, who is in the CIA and was along as a guest. Vale says he would like to provide the agent who goes into Somali some back-up, but cannot do it from official channels. Scheider, is sympathetic and suggests an independent contractor paid for by Vale and suggests that he knows of one excellent person who has done work for the CIA on the same basis and he suggests Marc Portman, an ex-special services expert.
Vale agrees and Portman is contacted and accepts the assignment. Portman goes in to Somali via Kenya, as a passenger aboard a microlight aircraft piloted by someone Vale trusts. He sets up an observation post carefully camouflaged to blend into the surroundings. He observes the Somali terrorists initially welcome the female intelligence operative and her companion and then is rather worried when he realises that they are not going to negotiate with them, but intend instead to summarily execute them on camera for broadcast worldwide. He contacts Vale on his satellite phone and briefs him and gets the go ahead to attempt a rescue.
This very gripping and hard to put down thriller then rushes on, in the way only an Adrian Magson authored story can do, to the exciting conclusion. I have had the privilege of reading for review purposes three of his earlier stories: NO KISS FOR THE DEVIL, in his Riley Gavin series and two of his Lucas Rocco stories set in provincial France in the early 1960s - DEATH ON THE MARAIS and DEATH ON THE RIVE NORD.
Magson is a very experienced writer with fifteen crime and spy thrillers and much more writing in other genres to his name. When you open one of his books, you know you can count on a really interesting plot, that has been thoroughly researched and that there js a real sense of action and a very dramatic page turning suspense almost to the last sentence. I look forward to reading more adventures of Marc Portman. Strongly recommended.
Terry Halligan, England