Rogue by James Swallow.
The fifth Marc Dane/Rubicon thriller.
Rogue is a high octane thriller, it’s perfect escapism because you’re not going to be thinking about anything else as you read. There’s action a plenty in this new high tech up to the minute version of a James Bond style adventure but without the misogyny and stereotyping of old. The women characters are just as tough as the men and are portrayed as rounded individuals and the team leader is African. Although I enjoyed Shadow (2019) I thought it was a little off the pace compared to Nomad and the other sequels. This is a massive return to form. Action flows into action, there’s hardly time to draw breath and it all connects up very smoothly. The story is about the survival of Rubicon itself against seen and unseen enemies who are coming for them. Once again Marc Dane and his partner Lucy Keyes are thrown into a maelstrom of treachery and deception, violence and mayhem.
A British surveillance operation in Olso on a target known to the team only by the code name Echo-One seems pretty routine. A team of five have been following her for a while, other than she has military training they don’t know a lot about her. Then Echo-One makes a break, lures the team into a trap and a simple operation becomes a nightmare.
Ten days later Marc Dane is on his way to see Lucy Keyes, she’s kicking her heals in a Portuguese clinic, going up the wall, desperate to get back to work, but six months ago she nearly died in an operation in Brussels. A biological agent ravaged her system and she’s still not fully recovered. Marc and Lucy work for Ekko Solomon, Special Conditions Division, part of Rubicon a private intelligence agency working with western governments for the preservation of democracy against terrorism, and rogue states and money. Their biggest enemy is a cartel of business and criminals known as the Combine, among them there are extremists determined to bring the West down.
Lucy accepts Marc offer of a pint in a local bar, her first trip away from the Delphi Clinic since she came here. Marc spots something odd just outside the bar but it’s too late, a well planned operation to kidnap the pair is underway.
Esther McFarlane has never been on board with Solomon’s SCD and now she has evidence about their rogue operations that she intends to expose to the Committee. SCD extracted the chief accountant for the La Noche cartel from Colombia, faked his death and used the financial data windfall for an operation, just one of the SCDs black ops. The question is who is feeding McFarlane the intel that could fatally harm it?
Turns out for Marc that Echo-One is an enemy he thought long dead. The past has come back to haunt him. The attack is from within and without Rubicon, the SCD is under intense scrutiny and it’s people are in mortal danger and that has consequences for the Brits, the Americans, the West.
Swallow proves that it is possible to write a full on action/adventure novel that thrills and is alive to modern sensibilities. The jaunt through modern-tech and across the globe is as much fun as ever. Fans will love this latest instalment in the Marc Dane series, newcomers this would not be a had place to start.
Zaffre hardback, 9781838770556, 30/5/20, £12.99.

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