Nick is a new writer. He comes not from an intelligence background but from commercial shipping, and he's written a story based in a world he knows which, like any line of international business, can be complex, at risk of fraud, and open to corruption. You don't see any of this on 'Mighty Ships' on the TV, I'll tell you. Who knew international shipping was a nest of criminal vipers?
The book is relatively short - just under three hundred pages - and is definitely the sort of easy read that one can complete in a weekend or over a week on the train to work.
The main protagonist - a maritime claims investigator, unsurprisingly - is called Angus McKinnon. He makes connections between a number of fraudulent deals he uncovers in doing his job - the twist is that in doing so he plunges into a violent and ruthless world of he uncovers a ruthless conspiracy born of greed and the lust for power, with the background of the global oceans to support his efforts to uncover the truth. There's a classic story arc here of one man uncovering something big and taking the direct route to uncover the truth and, in a way, get redemption.
The plot - I won't give it away - does move quickly and every chapter seems to add something to the story and the narrative, well, there's not any fat here to be trimmed. In the book there are all the ingredients one looks for in a modern espionage thriller:
- Secretive government agencies
- Exotic locations like Thailand and India
- Love tangles
- Sleeper agents, and other things.
It's about intrigue and there's a lot of work the reader is asked to do to make connections and fill out the bigger picture.
The dialogue at times I felt needed a little polishing, some vim and verve to take it out of the ordinary, as there were a couple of dialogues that felt a little clunky. There's a lot of shipping references, perhaps naturally, but the reader doesn't need to be a naval nut to enjoy the story.
As a main character, McKinnon has some credibility and signs of depth and he proves a stubborn and tough companion through the pages. There's potential here, one suspects, for Elliott to develop the character a little more and build him up into an agent/investigator to join the pantheon of some of the great characters of international thrillers.
A worthy first effort by Nick. It can be found on Amazon on both Kindle and paperback, where it's already got a five star rating. If you read it, do share your comments below.