This book is the second instalment of the explosive Jack Malaney series, and I think it was a tremendous success. The story follows straight on from the first novel – “The Baltic Triangle” – but there are brand new dangers, brand new faces and brand new action sequences to take one’s breath away.
Usually in literature, the middle book in a trilogy is identified by its vast amounts of character development. Clark certainly didn’t disappoint. In “Deadly States”, readers are given the opportunity to learn more about the protagonist: Scottish superspy Jack Malaney. Through the use of extensive flashbacks and snippets of Jack’s astonishing history, we learnt about Jack’s ethics, morals, fears and even love life. His past is intriguing, but even more intriguing for the reader interested in character development is the way Jack reacts to his dramatic past. The thoughts and feelings from the protagonist were invaluable in this book; the way Jack was explored as a character definitely made the story intoxicating to read.
What really sets this book apart from other spy novels is the unorthodox plot. All the loose ends from the first book were tied up in “Deadly States”, and characters (as well as a few unfinished storylines) from “The Baltic Triangle” leaked into its sequel. This unusual tactic of having the first book blur into the second really works to Clark’s advantage. It’s different, it’s new, it’s thought-provoking – especially for readers bored with the mindless violence usually found in the spy genre.
As well as having a memorable plot and buckets of character development, this book was fraught with history. It provided a startling insight into 1990s South Africa and was factually interesting. For once, history did not equate to boredom! Conspiracy theories and outlandish, villainous plots played a heavy role in this novel, and Clarke explored the intense political themes of freedom, dictatorship and democracy with a masterful ease.
“Deadly States” is a definite step up from “The Baltic Triangle”. The prose (when it is mistake free) flowed very well. The action scenes were explosive, the dialogue, in some places, humorous. Aside from the numerous typos, I can see nothing bad about this book, its characters or its convoluted plot. And the ending, of course, was an absolute shocker. I would thoroughly recommend this series.
This book was a rip roaring adventure. It grabbed readers by the throat with its vivid action sequences and scatterings of dry humour, and it refused to let go. The story follows Jack Malaney, a witty Scotsman with a glib tongue and fierce moral compass. His world is changed forever when he is recruited by the grim faced officers of MI6 to serve his country and save the world. Jack must leave his cosy life in rain drenched Glasgow to fight against both terrorists and the threat of nuclear warfare alike.
I really enjoyed this book. It was a genuinely entertaining read that was impossible to escape from – I found that even when I wasn’t reading it, the story would leak its way into my thoughts. The book provided a chilling insight into the savage world of the IRA. That sense of real danger, coupled with the way tension accumulated throughout the story, made this book a true thrill ride. Yet despite the brutal nature of the antagonists, the story had a cheeky, witty vibe to it that never ceased to make me smile.
What I found really interesting about this book wasn’t all the spy related action scenes (though they were pretty exciting) – it was the characters. The protagonist, Jack Malaney, was a very likeable young hero. The sheer volume of his patriotism never ceased to amaze me, and his bravery was palpable yet still very realistic.
However, not all the characters were so successful. I found that the way MI6 spymasters were portrayed as being cold, calculating and English to the point of let’s have a cup of tea in London, was not very original. Though these minor characters were intrinsic to the overall plot, I was a little bored by their overused personalities. I felt I had already met them in other books, in particular those penned by Ian Fleming.
This minor issue with some minor characters aside, the rest of the book was very unique and contained themes that were in no way overused. The climax of the story delivered completely in terms of successful plot conclusion and character development, and the ending was brilliant. The plot was fast paced and complex – but not in way that was convoluted or confusing. I particularly enjoyed Clark’s writing style, which was efficient, effective and detailed. The ending to this book left a few questions still unanswered, and as a result I’m definitely going to read the next story in the series. This was a very enjoyable, first rate thriller that I would whole heartedly recommend!