Ryan Drake is a man who finds people who don’t want to be found. Once a soldier in the British Army, he now works for the CIA, leading an elite investigation team that tracks down missing agents. But his latest mission – to free a prisoner codenamed Maras and bring her back onto US soil within forty-eight hours – is more dangerous than anything his team has attempted before. Despite the risks, the team successfully completes their mission, but for Drake the real danger has only just begun. Faced with a terrible threat, he is forced to go on the run with Maras – a veteran agent scarred by years of brutal imprisonment. Hunted by his former comrades and those willing to do anything to protect a deadly secret, Drake is left with no choice but to trust a dangerous woman he barely knows. For he has only one chance to save those he loves and time is running out…
A high-octane and fast paced tale of derring-do set in the world of elite investigation and black-ops that had me hooked throughout. The hero of the piece is Ryan Drake, a wonderful amalgamation of thriller favourites, Geordie Sharp, Nick Stone and ‘Spider’ Shepherd but with a slightly softer centre as he finds himself at the whim of his immediate superiors and with an additional threat to his nearest and dearest. Tasked with liberating a former CIA agent, Maras, from a harsh prison in the snowy wastes of Siberia, Drake and his team come to realise that this mission is not all that it first appears to be and forces Drake on the run with Maras as the depth of this conspiracy becomes clear.
One of the strongest aspects of this book is Jordan’s grasp of characterisation as Drake is a compelling and empathetic protagonist with a strong moral sense but who seeks to retain his professionalism as a soldier. Maras, named after the goddess of war, also proves to be an intriguing and exceptionally well-drawn character and is probably the finest kick-derriere heroine of the thriller genre I have read. She is incredibly driven, consumed with a thirst for revenge and not above using her feminine wiles to manipulate Drake to achieve this. Likewise, the characterisation of members of Drake’s disparate team and his oily superiors is equally balanced and I particularly liked Drake’s nemesis Dietrich who Drake reluctantly adds to his team and the way their rocky history comes to light.
The plot moves quickly through a series of unforgiving terrains as Drake and Maras go on the run for reasons that I will not reveal as this would totally spoil this read but needless to say Jordan’s depiction of these locations is utterly authentic and I particularly enjoyed the Siberian section getting a real sense of the isolated and brutal confines of a frankly despicable place of incarceration. Jordan has said that having undergone a military bootcamp in the past, igniting his passion for military hardware and history, that he has undertaken much research in the US and Europe becoming something of an arms expert and this is self-evident throughout the plot. There is a meticulous attention to weaponry and military procedures throughout, which is not only informative, but reveals much of this secret world of military warfare.
Overall a very creditable debut and bodes well for a long running series featuring this new action-hero on the block and perfect for readers looking for something to supplement the works of other established writers in the military thriller genre…
Read Adrian Magson’s review at SHOTS here
WILL JORDAN- SACRIFICE (RYAN DRAKE 2)
Afghanistan, 2008. A Black Hawk helicopter carrying a senior CIA operative is shot down by a surface-to-air missile, its lone passenger taken hostage by a fanatical new insurgent group. Knowing this man holds information vital to the on going conflict, the CIA bring in Ryan Drake and his elite Shepherd team to find and rescue their lost operative. But nothing is what it seems, and within hours of arriving in the war-torn country, Drake and his team find themselves caught in a deadly conflict between a brutal terrorist warlord and the ruthless leader of a private military company. And lurking in the shadows is a woman from Drake’s past determined to settle old scores.
Sacrifice sees the return to action of Ryan Drake- our tough guy hero with the soft centre- in another fast-paced adventure to satisfy any fan of the military or conspiracy thriller. Opening with the spectacular shooting down of a helicopter in war torn Afghanistan, ferrying a particularly important American operative, Drake and his team are despatched to deal with the aftermath and to track down the missing agent kidnapped from the crash site. It soon becomes clear to Drake and his team that shady forces are at work and that this mission is nowhere near as straightforward as it seems, leading to some pretty impressive altercations and an adrenaline fuelled race for the truth…
Once again, Jordan thrusts the reader straight into the harsh terrain and bleak surroundings of an active war-zone, perfectly capturing the heat and starkness of Afghanistan. As in Redemption, Jordan never allows the reader to lose sight of the location and atmosphere which underpins the action throughout. Likewise, the same level of detail regarding the actions of the Army and Black-Ops outfits is absolutely perfect, and Jordan’s inherent knowledge of military hardware pepper the story educating the reader but without becoming too know-it-all, while other writers in this genre find this a difficult balance to achieve. As regards plotting, the story unfolds at a pace and I liked the setting up of Drake against a former nemesis and also the reappearance of a rather striking character from the first book that unsettles our hero. Although the plot plays out in a rather similar way to the first book, this didn’t overly concern me as having read many McNabs and Ryans, there is a distinct similarity generally in this genre, but Jordan has an added weapon in his arsenal…
I think what sets Jordan apart from his military thriller counterparts, is that not only does he have a charismatic but utterly focused professional soldier as his central character, who is appealing to both genders, but that once again there is a brilliant balance with female characters who pack a punch, but do not become overly stereotyped. There are three such characters in this book, who not only provide a good foil to their macho counterparts, but are well drawn enough that their characters are balanced between their professional or rogue roles, while still retaining their essential sense of femininity alongside their kick-ass doggedness. In my wide reading of this genre, I have not encountered a male author yet with such convincing female characters who does not resort to stereotypes, so thumbs up for Jordan on that one!
Another assured book in this compelling series then, with thrills, spills and skulduggery at the highest levels of the US security departments. Packed with high-octane action scenes and perfectly placed militaristic detail there is much to entertain any reader of this genre. Only question is- what will Ryan Drake become embroiled in next?
Will Jordan was born in Fife, Scotland in 1983. After graduating high school he moved on to university, gaining an honours degree in Information Technology. To support himself during his degree he worked a number of part time jobs, one of which was as an extra in television and feature films. Cast as a World War Two soldier, he was put through military boot camp in preparation for the role. The experience piqued his interest in military history, and encouraged him to learn more about conflicts past and present. Having always enjoyed writing, he used this research as the basis for his first thriller, Redemption. He was able to supplement this with visits to weapon ranges in America and Eastern Europe, as well as visiting some of the locations described in this book : www.willjordanbooks.com
Follow this link to read my Interview with Will Jordan
(With thanks to Arwen at Random House for the ARCs)