Bibliophile | Nothing spreads faster than fear in ‘Shadow’

by James Swallow

Shadow is the fourth book featuring the ex-M16 officer turned private security specialist Marc Dane, following Nomad, Exile and Ghost. Author James Swallow’s aim has been to create 21st century tech-savvy action-adventure thrillers with “an everyman hero facing off against deadly threats” and he has certainly done that.

Dane and former US Delta Force sniper Lucy Keyes work together for Rubicon Group whose mission is “to better the state of the world”. Dark-skinned Keyes is originally from New York and the working class white guy Dane originates from a London council estate. Adding to the multi-national complexity, their boss is African billionaire Ekko Solomon.

The global terrorist group known as the Combine is a century old clandestine group profiting from supplying and sometimes creating world conflicts and their current target is Libyan refugees. Led by ruthless Russian oligarch Pytor Glovkonin and co-opting established ‘hate groups’, they are hoping to unleash a weaponised virus – “a fucked up cocktail of some seriously nasty shit”.

The action is non-stop, beginning with the freeing of a ruthless killer, who has left a trail of death and terror across Europe, while being transported between prisons. Then in Singapore a researcher has her morning with her family interrupted when they are all abducted and at the same time a boat full of Libyan refugees is intercepted by pirates who specialize in human trafficking.

It’s not necessary to have read the previous books as the characters often reminisce about previous exploits. The disparate threads eventually come together with wave after wave of violence. There’s no room for subtlety – with the evil ultra right wing extremists specializing in senseless violence and the saviours of the world using an “agreed moral code” for their sensible violence to target the enemies of the world!

The subtitle of this terrifying thriller is “Nothing Spreads Faster Than Fear” and while there is no doubt which group will win the battle between good and evil, it is the collateral about how divisions are made in the general population and beliefs generated to create rifts that is most interesting.

Lezly Herbert