Review – The Angel by Mark Dawson

The Angel is a very modern thriller, dealing with many of the big issues facing the intelligence community, as well as the community as a whole. There is a multi-faceted terrorist attack in London, told mostly from the perspective of the young (and not so young) terrorists as they carry out the attack.

I haven’t read any of Mark Dawson’s novels before, but was pleased to see that this was the start of a new series, rather than trying to play catchup from the middle of a series. I felt like the characters were well fleshed out, but they followed many of the tropes of other military thrillers.

For instance, there is the disgraced military/intelligence officer who is demoted by politicians just before some great catastrophe occurs which requires his expertise. He goes through the novel being praised as a hero by all and sundry, and modestly denying it all.

There are seemingly random cutaways to the life of a young woman in Morocco, who seems to be going about her randomly random daily life, and it only becomes apparent later that she is the eponymous character of the novel’s title.

The story also follows the recruiter who appears to be the real force behind the terrorist attack, and then gets out of the country. Unfortunately, I anticipated that the majority of the novel would revolve around the natural search for that.

I might have missed the connection – it seemed a little vague – to why the intelligence agents have to recruit a girl in her teens – who seems entirely too competent for someone that age – to spy on the son of someone, while studying at a high class high school in Switzerland.

Because that won’t seem strange and obvious at all…

What follows is an extensive description of the life of a new student at a strange boarding school; with the awkwardly trying to fit in, and the going to parties, and the shopping trips in to town to buy expensive watches and… stop…. just stop…

The woman who was portrayed in the random spots of randomness does not seem to bear any relation to the girl who is in the second half of the novel. And frankly it was a little annoying, and distracting from what was otherwise a fairly competent thriller novel. I didn’t understand what the connection was between the boy, his father, and the terrorist plot, or how they intended her to plant some sort of bugging device.

At the end of the day, I think the author managed to waste the potential of the woman he had built up to be the hero. While I am somewhat interested in seeing the direction the series is going in, I don’t buy “The Angel” story as it is currently presented.

I felt that it was a reasonably competent, if by-the-book thriller novel, but I felt that it was let down by failing to be a complete story in itself.

3/5 stars

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