Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Devil's Halo -- Chris Fox

When I was a much younger guy, I read spy fiction by the metric ton. Trucks just backed up to my door and dumped it out. I couldn't get enough. Reading The Devil's Halo reminded my of why I got so much enjoyment from those books: exotic locations, a resourceful hero, great gadgets, and plenty of action, and a sense that the writer was having a great time telling his story.

The setting is the day after tomorrow, 2010. Economic espionage is the big thing, and Terry Weston's one of the best spies in that line, a master of disguise and tougher than you think. His latest job seems simple enough: Go to Russia and recover a pirated movie. As you might suspect, it's not that simple at all. Things start to happen almost at once. Talk about one damned thing after another! This is a fairly long novel, but the pace is relentless. It just never lets up. Weston is soon joined in his escapades by his wife and their six-year-old daughter, and before you know it (but after a plethora of close calls), they're hijacking a Russian spacecraft to make their escape and come back to the U.S. And that's just the beginning. It turns out that there's a lot more at stake than just a pirated movie, and things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.

Which calls for a SPOILER ALERT! Don't read this. Go read the book instead. Because by the end of the book, things don't get better. This isn't a James Bond movie where the hero saves the world just before the digital clock shows 00:00. Weston and his wife do all the right things, but nobody will listen to them until it's far too late. END SPOILER ALERT!

Fox uses a mixture of first- and third-person narration, which might bother some people. I mention it only to say that it worked just fine for me. Some writers can get away with it (Fox can), and some stories require it (The Devil's Halo is one of them). I have a copy of the British edition. I believe the book will be published in the U.S. in June, so if you're looking for a rollicking good read, check it out.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your enthusiastic, and generous, review. I'm glad that The Devil's Halo reawakened your enjoyment of espionage thrillers.

I was prompted to write this one because Europe and the US seem to be embarked on a collision course, and one likely flashpoint will be space ambitions. Europe has already begun deploying Galileo, a carbon copy of the US GPS system, to have GPS that the Pentagon won't be able to control in a conflict. And the militarization of space is the wave of the present, given our doctrine to use
space as America's military high ground.

On that cheery note, I hope some of your readers enjoy the book. And have fun in Houston, Bill.

Andy J said...

Sounds like a great book but to read it I'd have to break one of my long-standing rules -- don't read any book with a swastika or a red star on the cover. I think I'm also going to swear off any book with the stars and stripes, any reference to 9/11, and courtroom scenes. Anything left?