Source: Review copy
Publication: 24 June 2021 from Lume Books
My thanks to the author and Lume Books for an advance copy for review
One last mission for an old friend. What could go wrong?
It’s sold as an in-and-out jaunt to The Big Apple, to pick up a harmless envelope. But when Ben Bracken is offered the assignment, he’s a little hesitant. He’s a family man now, with a duty to stay alive for his loved ones.
But, with the request coming from fellow former military man and trusted friend William Grosvenor, not to mention the eye-watering payout, one last job can’t hurt, can it?
So begins his American road trip, one that takes him from the city that never sleeps to the misty swamps of Florida. All in pursuit of one highly coveted envelope. Because it turns out, this job isn’t the walk in Central Park it was promised to be.
As he’s pursued by New York’s most dangerous mobsters, factions of federal law enforcement, and American Intelligence, Ben’s hunch is that their joint quarry must hold something of international significance.
He’s not wrong. The contents that’s slipping through these influential fingers contains evidence of the world’s biggest cover-up. Evidence that will rewrite history books and incriminate one of the most powerful men on the planet.
It’s probably best it winds up in the right hands.
I’ve been a fan of Rob Parker’s Ben Bracken series from the beginning and this, the 5th in the series, is a real firecracker. You can read this as a stand-alone book, but I think you get more out of this high octane action packed thriller when you understand a little more of Bracken’s background and ethos.
Bracken, an elite ex-soldier with a strong sense of duty has gone through a lot to achieve some sense of peace. He has changed a lot since the early days; he’s lost friends, almost lost his life several times and now, finally, he has settled down with a partner he loves and children he adores. Living under the name Tom West, he is trying to live the life of a dedicated father, good husband and loyal citizen.
So there’s nothing that is likely to tempt him out of retirement from active ops – except for a request from his guide and mentor – a man he trusts and reveres. It’s a simple enough job. Collect an envelope and deliver it back to his mentor. The contents are need to know and Bracken is told that this envelope is so important that governments could topple if the secret falls into the wrong hands.
The request comes with a healthy pay off, too. Enough to keep Tom West and his family in comfort for some time. In the end though, that’s not what compels him to accept. That pesky sense of duty and honour that is the Bracken trademark, just won’t let him disappoint an old friend in a time of real need. It should be an ‘in and out’ job, just collect the envelope from a contact in NYC and head home.
So Bracken heads stateside and that, of course, is when all hell breaks loose. The action takes Bracken and his US contact, Lucas into a series of explosive situations involving the Brooklyn mafia, the Secret Service, the CIA and hostile overseas agents.
The action is fast and furious, quick wits need to be deployed and these guys can burn through arsenal of weaponry quicker than you can say ‘pass me that assault rifle’. At the heart of all this is the secret that is residing in this elusive envelope; a secret so deadly governments are prepared to kill for it.
There are some brilliant action scenes including one on a boat involving alligators that will stay in my mind for some time….
Verdict: The Watchman is a rapidly moving story full of spies, action and is founded on one of the biggest conspiracy theories of all time. It’s great fun, maintains a cracking pace and is completely compulsive reading, This is my favourite Ben Bracken so far. (even if I do say that every time)
Robert Parker is a married father of three, who lives in a village near Manchester, UK. The author of the Ben Bracken books A Wanted Man, Morte Point, The Penny Black and the standalone post-Brexit country-noir Crook’s Hollow, he enjoys a rural life on an old pig farm (now minus pigs), writing horrible things between school runs.
He writes full time, as well as organising and attending various author events across the UK – while boxing regularly for charity. Passionate about inspiring a love of the written word in young people, he spends a lot of time in schools across the North West, encouraging literacy, story-telling, creative-writing and how good old fashioned hard work tends to help good things happen.