Cold Kill, by Stephen Leather

A nameless "Saudi" is travelling the world, arranging bomb attacks in cities. Meanwhile, Dan Shepherd, an undercover cop, is inflitrating a gang of human traffikers. Presumably these two characters are going to cross paths...

I got this after being pretty impressed by The Eyewitness. But this was a bit of a let-down by comparison. In fact I find it a bit hard to believe it was written by the same person - while the plots were not dissimilar (ex-cop with family problems up against after international criminals), the writing in this one was pretty poor.

Whereas the characters in the other book seemed believable and, in some cases, quite frightening, in here they seemed two-dimensional and stereotyped. Actually the stereotyping extended to the descriptions of the different nationalities, and some of this felt a bit distasteful. Perhaps that was the idea, but you got the sense that perhaps the author really did think that all Muslims are potential terrorists, and that Albanians are especially ruthless criminals.

Like Eyewitness, the main character here has a back-story: in this one he's a single parent, his wife having died some years ago. So there is a sub-plot about his son, and the problems Dan has reconciling his work and family commitments. But unlike Eyewitness, it wasn't done very subtly in this book: in the first half there was too much of it, and it was boring; in the second half, Dan's son pretty much disappeared from the story and no mention of him was made, even in the closing sections. Perhaps this book is part of a series and the story continues elsewhere, but I'm not that bothered about finding out about it.

And the reader of this book was really bad (especially when compared with the last one I listened to). He really couldn't "do" accents at all, which was especially unfortunate given the range of nationalities represented in this book. His "scottish" sailor veered between Scots, Geordie and Welsh; his Saudi sounded the same as his Bangladeshi. At one point, someone says something and I thought "what accent is that meant to be?" only to have it described as belonging to a woman who was French, but speaking English with an American accent. I guess maybe even Tim Pigott-Smith might have had problems with that, but this guy never had a chance.

Disappointing. I'll try another by Stephen Leather, but if it turns out like this one then maybe that'll be enough.

Completed : 27-Nov-2009 (audiobook)

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