REVIEW: THE SNIPER by Simon Conway

Published by Hodder and Stoughton for £20

ISBN hardback: 978 1 529 33434 0

Okay, I have waxed lyrical about Simon’s books before. The first of his I read, RAGE, had me entirely engrossed. The next I read was A LOYAL SPY, which cemented his position as a top-flight thriller writer in my view. But then he began this trilogy, with THE STRANGER, THE SABOTEUR, and now THE SURVIVOR, and I was blown away. 

These are seriously good books. In Jude Lyon Conway has created an entirely believable character who is a modern-day Bond mixed with Jason Bourne. There are no fancy gadgets, no leaps of imagination – only rock-hard plotting based on brilliantly conceived and portrayed characters thrown into tumultuous events way beyond their control. 

And now, of course, I hit a slight issue as I have to talk a bit about this book and its storyline. It would be a great deal easier if this were only a stand-alone book. However, it is the latest in a series, so I can’t help mentioning what happened at the end of the previous title – for those of a nervous disposition, or who don’t want to know too much, please look away now – but I’ll only tell you what’s on the dust jacket – no more than that.

At the end of THE SABOTEUR, Britain was reeling after an appalling terrorist attack. As a result, we are introduced to a new political leader who becomes Prime Minister in the wake of the tragedy. The public is seeking answers, and police, military and secret agencies are desperately searching for the culprits. But it’s not an easy task – some are in Russia, and the others have gone to ground. But it’s clear that there is an urgent need to track down the group responsible. There is a risk that more attacks could soon be launched.

Jude Lyon knows who the ringleader is. The question is, can he catch the man before the next attack?

Okay, so in bald terms this is good against evil – but the story is much more than that. Simon Conway is a former British army officer, and since then has become involved in charitable work. He was Co-Chair of the campaign to outlaw cluster bombs (not that the Russians agreed, as we can see now in Ukraine). More recently he has worked with the HALO Trust, teaching munitions disposal and helping clear mines and other hazardous material in countries worldwide. His experience means he has a strong understanding of the way that governments and security services work, and he puts this knowledge to great use, giving his stories a credibility that I haven’t felt since reading Frederick Forsythe’s early works. When I read THE DAY OF THE JACKAL and THE DOGS OF WAR, it was obvious that Forsythe knew what he was writing about. His training as an investigative reporter lent believability to all his fiction writing. 

Simon Conway has the same depth of understanding. His stories show not only an inventiveness and attention to detail, but give the reader the feeling that they are right there, in the thick of the action. He writes with a clarity and perception that is sadly rare in modern thrillers, but still gives plenty of bangs for the reader’s buck. 

This is a highly recommended book. In fact, no – don’t go out and buy this. Go and buy all three books in this series. They are superb. There. That is your Christmas present list sorted for any thriller reader.

I have to admit, I suggested the first of the series to a friend of mine. I wasn’t absolutely sure it would be right for him, but wanted to give him the chance of reading it. I thought he might enjoy it. He consumed THE STRANGER faster than I had anticipated. I lent him THE SABOTEUR, and he read that much more slowly. When I asked why, I was told he was making it last until THE SURVIVOR came out so that he could go straight on. 

I was given this book as a review copy, and my thanks go to Hodder and Stoughton and Simon Conway for this copy. However, now I have to buy a fresh copy (hopefully signed) for my friend. That is how good the series is. As a reviewer, I have to go and buy copies now!

Seriously, this is a mind-blowing finale to the best trilogy I’ve read in a very long time. 

Go buy it!

Got to like the back cover, too:

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