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Introducing Luke Carlton - ex-Special Boat Service commando, and now under contract to MI6 for some of its most dangerous missions. Sent into the steaming Colombian jungle to investigate the murder of a British intelligence officer, Luke finds himself caught up in the coils of a plot that has terrifying international dimensions. Hunted down, captured, tortured and on the ru Introducing Luke Carlton - ex-Special Boat Service commando, and now under contract to MI6 for some of its most dangerous missions. Sent into the steaming Colombian jungle to investigate the murder of a British intelligence officer, Luke finds himself caught up in the coils of a plot that has terrifying international dimensions. Hunted down, captured, tortured and on the run from one of South America's most powerful and ruthless drugs cartels and its psychotic leader thirsting for revenge, Luke is in a life-or-death race against time to prevent a disaster on a truly terrifying scale: London is the target, the weapon is diabolical and the means of delivery is ingenious. Drawing on his years of experience reporting on security matters, CRISIS is Frank Gardner’s debut novel. Combining insider knowledge, up-to-the-minute hardware, fly on the wall insights with heart-in-mouth excitement, CRISIS boasts an irresistible, visceral frisson of authenticity: smart, fast-paced and furiously entertaining, here is a thriller for the 21st century.


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Introducing Luke Carlton - ex-Special Boat Service commando, and now under contract to MI6 for some of its most dangerous missions. Sent into the steaming Colombian jungle to investigate the murder of a British intelligence officer, Luke finds himself caught up in the coils of a plot that has terrifying international dimensions. Hunted down, captured, tortured and on the ru Introducing Luke Carlton - ex-Special Boat Service commando, and now under contract to MI6 for some of its most dangerous missions. Sent into the steaming Colombian jungle to investigate the murder of a British intelligence officer, Luke finds himself caught up in the coils of a plot that has terrifying international dimensions. Hunted down, captured, tortured and on the run from one of South America's most powerful and ruthless drugs cartels and its psychotic leader thirsting for revenge, Luke is in a life-or-death race against time to prevent a disaster on a truly terrifying scale: London is the target, the weapon is diabolical and the means of delivery is ingenious. Drawing on his years of experience reporting on security matters, CRISIS is Frank Gardner’s debut novel. Combining insider knowledge, up-to-the-minute hardware, fly on the wall insights with heart-in-mouth excitement, CRISIS boasts an irresistible, visceral frisson of authenticity: smart, fast-paced and furiously entertaining, here is a thriller for the 21st century.

30 review for Crisis

  1. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I would definitely not recommend this book. I found the story dragged & I wanted to finish it so I could read something better! The majority of the characters were annoying especially Luke and Elise - the ones I did like tended to die pretty quickly, I think there was only one that I liked who survived... Very James Bond-ish but a more up-to-date, perhaps more accurate version. It did at least teach a little more about how SIS work & the info about Columbian cartels was kind of interesting.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Charles Green

    Normally when writing reviews I try to avoid spoilers like the plague. However, in order to give Crisis a fair review I really can't find a way to avoid at least hinting at some minor plot developments within the book. Therefore please accept the warning that what follows does contain SPOILERS. Crisis is the first non-fiction work by Frank Gardner, and as befits his day job of BBC Security Correspondent he has chosen a spy thriller as the genre for his debut novel. As you would expect from a journ Normally when writing reviews I try to avoid spoilers like the plague. However, in order to give Crisis a fair review I really can't find a way to avoid at least hinting at some minor plot developments within the book. Therefore please accept the warning that what follows does contain SPOILERS. Crisis is the first non-fiction work by Frank Gardner, and as befits his day job of BBC Security Correspondent he has chosen a spy thriller as the genre for his debut novel. As you would expect from a journalist who has spent a considerable proportion of his career covering matters relating to National Security, International Affairs and Terrorism, Crisis is a novel packed full of accurate details, or at least details that feel entirely plausible. From descriptions of the processes and procedures followed by the UK security services during a national crisis to how special forces operate and deploy, you get the sense that Gardner writes either from first hand knowledge or from knowing people with direct experience of similar events, people and places. It gives parts of he book a clear feeling of plausibility and verisimilitude. Its a shame therefore, that such details are wasted on a plot that never feels entirely credible, lead characters who are either bland, misconceived or one dimensional and some very questionable decisions regarding both pacing of the story and individual dramatic developments. The central plot of the book is a critical problem from the get go because it fits so poorly with the tone of the book. The idea of a Colombian drug lord, incensed by successful, British lead attempts to curtail his business, scheming with the North Koreans to set off a nuclear dirty-bomb in the UK sounds like the stuff of a lesser Bond movie, and if the rest of Crisis was similarly fantastical it might have worked as a plot hook. Frank Gardner however, whilst not resorting to Le Carre-style kitchen-sink realism, definitely wants the reader to feel they’re being shown an accurate portrayal of contemporary intelligence gathering and espionage, not a world of tricked-out Aston Martins and bikini-clad babes (the former even gets a jokey reference in the book’s dialogue, as if the author was trying to make a none-too-subtle point). In that context the idea that a Colombian drug lord, even one as moustache twirlingly irredeemable as Nelson Garcia, would go to all the expense, trouble and risk of mounting such an attack just doesn’t ring true. As a result the central story is holed below the waterline before it even gets going and no amount of factual detail regarding the intelligence services or anti-terrorist operations is enough to refloat it. What might have helped though, would have been a central character with enough charisma or complexity to let the reader overlook the inherent implausibility of the villainous conspiracy. Instead we get Luke Carlton, and instead of complexity we are given what can best be described as bland competence. Again, I understand that Gardner is trying hard to keep things within the bounds of the plausible, and ex-SBS officer Carlton fits that mold to a tee. However, just because the hero needs to be realistic and human doesn’t mean he needs to be dull, and giving him a tragic childhood or a slightly compliictedd love life is not enough to make him instantaneously more interesting or automatically grant him depth. Gardner needed to work far harder to create a more rounded, and complex lead character, rather than relying on lazy shortcuts. By resorting to the latter Crisis is left with a bland-cypher where its hero should be. Its also lumbered with an entirely one-dimensional bad guy in Garcia, who never becomes more than a stereotypical drug baron of the sort beloved by Hollywood action movies in the mid-90’s before he war on terror. Gardner should be congratulated for not falling back on using the standard Islamist-terrorist as the book’s primary antagonist. Its just a pity that he does nothing interesting or fresh with the Garcia character to make him stand out from the crowd. Although the reader should count themselves lucky that Gardner doesn’t lumber Garcia someone as pointless and irritating as Elise, Carlton’s entirely superfluous girlfriend, in order to flesh out the drug lord’s character. I appreciate what Gardner is trying to do with Elise; which is illustrate the complications and personal compromises those working in Intelligence have to make in order to protect their countries. Unfortunately by introducing her and then finding ways to shoehorn her into the plot, all Gardner does is slow down the narrative unnecessarily, add yet another unrealistic and ultimately superfluous, yet entirely predictable, subplot (from the moment in the opening chapters that you find out Elise knows martial arts you’re just waiting for her to be placed in a situation where she needs to use them) and irritate the reader. Honestly, if she had said ‘Babes’ one more time in a way that no real woman outside of The Only Way Is Essex actually would I would have screamed. Unfortunately Elise is not the only superfluous element in Crisis, although she is the most significant and irritating. The book is peppered with excessive detail, unnecessary exposition and minor characters who could be excised entirely. We don’t need to spend time with the man organising the Rememberance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph, or need to know so much about the welder working for the bad guys to help them build their bomb (another entirely unrealistic character). All of these and more could have and should have been edited out to streamline the plot and cut the page count significantly. Crisis is a book that needs a propulsive and dynamic narrative. Instead it meanders, lacks focus and is at least 100 pages to long. The final section does ramp up the tension, although the stakes are set too high for you to ever really believe that the bad guys will succeed in their goals, but it far too much of a slog to get to that point. Frank Gardner could, over time, become a half-decent thriller writer. His inside knowledge certainly gives him an edge, and Crisis does have some areas of promise. He just needs to tighten up his plotting, take some more time in crafting his characters and find a ruthless editor who will cut out the narrative deadwood and keep his stories focused and moving forward. I received my copy of Crisis for free via the Amazon Vine Programme in exchange for an unbiased review. A copy of this review is also available on Amazon.co.uk

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nina Harrington

    Crisis is a fast-paced, action packed thriller backed up with detailed and compelling descriptions of terrorist situations and settings, which have enough touches of contemporary news to make them feel real even if they are implausible. There is no room for any emotional journey or introspection from the main characters and it can be difficult to keep track of the parallel stories with so many secondary characters in walk-on parts. I couldn't emphasise with the lead hero and found myself skipping Crisis is a fast-paced, action packed thriller backed up with detailed and compelling descriptions of terrorist situations and settings, which have enough touches of contemporary news to make them feel real even if they are implausible. There is no room for any emotional journey or introspection from the main characters and it can be difficult to keep track of the parallel stories with so many secondary characters in walk-on parts. I couldn't emphasise with the lead hero and found myself skipping sections as a respite from the relentless pace. Not for me. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing an advanced reading copy.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tripfiction

    Spy thriller set in COLOMBIA and LONDON Crisis was published in June 2016, and has been on my TBR (To Be Read) pile pretty much ever since. I wanted to read the book because I have much admired Frank as the BBC’s security correspondent and wanted to see how he would write a fast paced thriller. I was not disappointed. For those of you who do not know, Frank was severely wounded in an Al Qaeda attack in Yemen in 2004 – his cameraman was killed, and he was left for dead with eleven bullets in him. Spy thriller set in COLOMBIA and LONDON Crisis was published in June 2016, and has been on my TBR (To Be Read) pile pretty much ever since. I wanted to read the book because I have much admired Frank as the BBC’s security correspondent and wanted to see how he would write a fast paced thriller. I was not disappointed. For those of you who do not know, Frank was severely wounded in an Al Qaeda attack in Yemen in 2004 – his cameraman was killed, and he was left for dead with eleven bullets in him. He was an officer in the Green Jackets and worked in banking in Saudi Arabia, he speaks fluent Arabic. Frank is the real thing – and his knowledge comes through loud and clear in Crisis. You just presume that his telling of how MI5, MI6, and the other security services work is as accurate as it can be. Not, of course, that Crisis is a believable story. It is from the Frederick Forsyth school of thriller writing – a brilliantly fashioned, but unlikely tale – executed by an adrenaline-fuelled cast of characters. The pace never lets up from the narcotics dens of Colombia, the murder of a serving MI6 officer in the same country, the torture, deceit, and corruption of the drugs gangs, though to a kidnapping in London and the machinations of the security services as they prepare for the worst. Luke Carlton is an ex-SBS officer. He is seconded to MI6 on a trial basis and, because he speaks fluent Spanish, is sent to Colombia to investigate when an MI6 officer is murdered while investigating one of the most notorious drugs gangs. What was he on the brink of discovering and reporting back to London? What is Nelson Garcia (‘El Pobrecito’ – ‘poor thing’), leader of the gang, planning to do? And how can Luke and the security services stop him? The action swings back and forth between London and Colombia as the story moves to a thrilling climax. To use an overworked phrase, it is indeed a ‘page turner’. Crisis was published in 2016 to much critical acclaim. Since then Frank has written the second book in the Luke Carlton series. Ultimatum will be published in May this year. It is set in Iran and sounds every bit as exciting as Crisis. A treat to look forward to.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kate Taylor

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I suspect I'm not really the target audience for this book but I like a good thriller so thought I'd give it a go. I found it really bland and totally lacking in suspense - there was no point that I didn't think Luke would be completely safe and obviously they were going to find the bomb; slightly enjoyed that the villains were Colombian narcos and not the usual Middle Eastern, but really, that's about the best I can say for it. Oh, and I HATED how the girlfriend had been written - whiney Sloane I suspect I'm not really the target audience for this book but I like a good thriller so thought I'd give it a go. I found it really bland and totally lacking in suspense - there was no point that I didn't think Luke would be completely safe and obviously they were going to find the bomb; slightly enjoyed that the villains were Colombian narcos and not the usual Middle Eastern, but really, that's about the best I can say for it. Oh, and I HATED how the girlfriend had been written - whiney Sloane Ranger one minute; kick-arse, kidnap escaping martial expert the next. Oh, and no ex-SBS current MI6 agent would ever agree to (let alone quite enjoy) the prospect of an Ellie Goulding concert at the O2...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Max Thomas

    A really enjoyable adventure thriller. As a somewhat newbie to this sort of book, it felt like James Bond meets Alex Rider with a healthy dash of grown-up thrown in. That probably undersells it really as it was genuinely a top quality book. It probably helps that I massively respect Frank Gardner already, but it was incredibly believable, gripping and very well written. Overall a telling fact is that I'll be off to find a copy of the next one soon! A really enjoyable adventure thriller. As a somewhat newbie to this sort of book, it felt like James Bond meets Alex Rider with a healthy dash of grown-up thrown in. That probably undersells it really as it was genuinely a top quality book. It probably helps that I massively respect Frank Gardner already, but it was incredibly believable, gripping and very well written. Overall a telling fact is that I'll be off to find a copy of the next one soon!

  7. 4 out of 5

    James

    Run of the mill thriller. Only if you have read all the good ones.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tony Mac

    Bit of a disappointment frankly. I was hoping someone of Frank Gardner's impressive journalistic background would be able to come up with something a bit less derivative than this by-the-numbers spook yarn with its cliche square-jawed ex-Commando hero and assorted snarling, one-dimensional Latino baddies. Gardner gets much of the bureaucratic background and technical detail right but needs more than just efficient research to produce an above-average thriller. This is a literary territory rather Bit of a disappointment frankly. I was hoping someone of Frank Gardner's impressive journalistic background would be able to come up with something a bit less derivative than this by-the-numbers spook yarn with its cliche square-jawed ex-Commando hero and assorted snarling, one-dimensional Latino baddies. Gardner gets much of the bureaucratic background and technical detail right but needs more than just efficient research to produce an above-average thriller. This is a literary territory rather overpopulated at the moment, with swaggering 21st century pseudo-Bonds crawling out of the woodwork everywhere. Who needs another one? This effort adds nothing to the genre and just blends into the pack. Gardner would have been better served targeting a less populated and less aggressively macho literary world of modern espionage where only Charles Cumming and Le Carre really operate at the moment. Books majoring on the subtleties of spycraft rather than militaristic posturing are rather thin on the ground and Gardner might have made better use of his knowledge and connections to produce something more original and thoughtful, instead of just going for the easy buck with yet another movie-friendly actioneer.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Graham Laverick

    2.5 stars Started well at a decent pace and I enjoyed the exploration of the Colombian Cartels and the North Korean aspect but the plot moves slowly. The concept is good and it's reasonably well written but it feels like the author is trying too hard with the overuse of acronyms, jargon and painstakingly drawn out descriptions and explanations of practically everything. This effects the pace of the plot as well as character development and due to the underdeveloped characters and character relat 2.5 stars Started well at a decent pace and I enjoyed the exploration of the Colombian Cartels and the North Korean aspect but the plot moves slowly. The concept is good and it's reasonably well written but it feels like the author is trying too hard with the overuse of acronyms, jargon and painstakingly drawn out descriptions and explanations of practically everything. This effects the pace of the plot as well as character development and due to the underdeveloped characters and character relationships I didn't really feel connected to any of them throughout. Elise was a frustratingly annoying presence and their was little rapore between any of the main characters. In his quest for authenticity the author neglected to make the characters believable as actual human beings which makes it difficult to care about the outcome.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Green

    Stupendous! Absolutely brilliant novel. I was hooked from start to finish: fast-paced, action-packed, thrilling, full of suspense and drama this book has it all. Incredibly well written, easy to read & follow. the plot entices, teases & thrills you all the way through. Great for those who read in short bursts too, with brief chapters which helps the feeling of racing against time. I cannot recommend this book enough and I can't wait to read the follow-up! Stupendous! Absolutely brilliant novel. I was hooked from start to finish: fast-paced, action-packed, thrilling, full of suspense and drama this book has it all. Incredibly well written, easy to read & follow. the plot entices, teases & thrills you all the way through. Great for those who read in short bursts too, with brief chapters which helps the feeling of racing against time. I cannot recommend this book enough and I can't wait to read the follow-up!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Robert Cubitt

    I’m not sure what I was expecting when I bought this book, but with the name of Frank Gardner attached I was probably expecting more. For those of you who can’t recall the name, Frank Gardner is Security Editor for the BBC TV News and therefore a man with considerable knowledge of the workings of our nation’s security services and probably those of several other countries. He is almost certain to have contacts in a number of other fields which would help him with insider knowledge of the sort tha I’m not sure what I was expecting when I bought this book, but with the name of Frank Gardner attached I was probably expecting more. For those of you who can’t recall the name, Frank Gardner is Security Editor for the BBC TV News and therefore a man with considerable knowledge of the workings of our nation’s security services and probably those of several other countries. He is almost certain to have contacts in a number of other fields which would help him with insider knowledge of the sort that comes in handy when writing a novel that involves Columbian drug cartels. With that pedigree, therefore, I was expecting something a little more interesting than what Gardner gives us in “Crisis”. Luke Carlton is the protagonist, an ex-Special Forces officer who has gone to work for MI6, Britain’s foreign intelligence gathering service. When a British agent is murdered in Colombia he is assigned to investigate. He then launches an unauthorised operation to capture the head of the drugs cartel responsible for the murder, which goes wrong in a spectacular manner, nearly getting Carlton killed. During the course of this mission Carlton finds out that some sort of dangerous weapon is on its way to Britain to be used against us, because our drug enforcement agencies have been hurting the drug cartels and they want payback. The idea that a drug cartel would take such a risk, let alone spend so much money, is a little farfetched, but you do have to suspend disbelief with spy thrillers, so I went with the premise. I wasn’t too keen on the characterisation of Carlton, however. As an ex-Special Forces officer he would know about not taking unnecessary risks, but that is precisely what Gardner has him doing. Rather than the calculating professional, Gardner portrays Carlton as an amateurish maverick. Ok, it injects drama, but it detracts from believability. When asking readers to suspend their disbelief, the author shouldn’t then ask them to suspend even more disbelief, especially so early in the plot. Another example of this comes later in the book, when we are supposed to believe that a pair of Colombian gangsters from the barrio would be able to navigate a make-shift mini-submarine with pin point accuracy, at night, through Force 5 seas to a tiny Cornish beach and arrive spot on time to make their rendezvous. This is a feat that would challenge the skipper of a Trident submarine, yet these two bozos manage it with ease - without any navigation equipment more sophisticated than a compass. Later we are supposed to accept that Garcia, the head of the drugs cartel, a man so paranoid about his security that he moves his entire operational HQ every few days, would accept into his inner sanctum a woman who he hardly knows just because she is good at acupuncture. He doesn’t even ask his head of security to have her checked out. The only bit of the plot I didn’t find far fetched was the idea of smuggling a weapon of mass destruction into the UK. This is a serious threat and one that our security services have reason to worry about. I used a similar idea in my own book, ‘Mirror Man’, a few years ago. But, that aside, most of what Gardner gives us defies belief, provides too much detail and not enough characterisation. Most of the bad guys are two dimensional and the good guys are stereotypes, not identifiable as real people. I think some of the problems with the book come from the depth of knowledge that Gardner has. He uses jargon freely, but then realises that his readers may not understand the jargon and has to explain it. Often this is done by making Carlton ask questions, or suffer an apparent loss of memory so that someone has to explain things to him. This makes the writing style cumbersome, tedious even. It might have been easier to not use the jargon in the first place and just stick to plain English. This isn’t really a bad book, but it isn’t a good one either. If you like your spy thrillers more James Bond than George Smiley, you may enjoy it but I won’t be going back for a second helping of Luke Carlton.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Vinay Leo

    #2019 #YearInBooks Book 77, 3.5 stars on 5. I love to read thrillers. This was a book I chanced upon at my favourite bookstore and both my BookishTwin and I purchased a copy each. Crisis, as the cover itself might give you an idea, is about a weapon targeting London. Intel from the investigation into the killing of a case handler reveals that much. And over the course of the novel, various agencies work to stop that weapon. Given the perpetrators are led by a ruthless Colombian drug baron, MI6 se #2019 #YearInBooks Book 77, 3.5 stars on 5. I love to read thrillers. This was a book I chanced upon at my favourite bookstore and both my BookishTwin and I purchased a copy each. Crisis, as the cover itself might give you an idea, is about a weapon targeting London. Intel from the investigation into the killing of a case handler reveals that much. And over the course of the novel, various agencies work to stop that weapon. Given the perpetrators are led by a ruthless Colombian drug baron, MI6 send Luke Carlton to Bogota. Fast, taut, tense, accurate, says Forsyth about the novel. I agree with the last three but I think accuracy brought detailing and detailing stopped it from being fast. Also, there's not much unpredictability. A future course of action is spoken of in the current conversation so when it actually happens, the reader isn't necessarily shocked or surprised by it. Villains make mistakes under no pressure, maybe because of ego, but again, given the plot, it leads to the reader somewhat guessing the consequence of the mistake. There are a lot of characters but other than Luke, Elise Angela and Jorge, the rest aren't really memorable. I liked the narration but at one time, thought to shelve as DNF. Thankfully, didn't. Because it was worth a read. I might pick up the next in the series.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Olivia

    A classic thriller from the first page to the last.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Hollie Hutton

    Nice easy read. Really enjoyed

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rita Costa (Lusitania Geek)

    It was good, i like the story ( i love anything related with mobs, narcos, serial killers stories) but not this author writting style, which made me read in a slower paced and picking other novels tonread while i read this It was ok but not exceptional book. 3 ⭐️

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ali

    Unbelievably lame. Picked this off the library shelf because Frank Gardner is an engaging, dynamic, original and succinct BBC correspondent. As a novelist (if he really did write this), he is the antithesis of all these things. This is, by some distance, the worst novel I have read this year. A novel so pedestrian, trite and unintentionally funny that it reads better as a satire on the genre than as genuine thriller. The laugh out loud moments are legion: When action hero-by-numbers Luke meets a sol Unbelievably lame. Picked this off the library shelf because Frank Gardner is an engaging, dynamic, original and succinct BBC correspondent. As a novelist (if he really did write this), he is the antithesis of all these things. This is, by some distance, the worst novel I have read this year. A novel so pedestrian, trite and unintentionally funny that it reads better as a satire on the genre than as genuine thriller. The laugh out loud moments are legion: When action hero-by-numbers Luke meets a soldier ex-colleague and they exchange the type of lame homoerotic repartee beloved of the military. Paragraph break - "Banter over, the two men walked in silence....." Holy moley. After the bomb is contained and the explosives expert says of our stale hero, "Wow, whoever got the intel for this op must be one hell of a guy." Jesus christ. The resurrection of the central love story with the promise of......tickets to see Ellie Goulding at the O2. Good lord. For the first hundred pages, Luke is unbelievably incompetent. His operations always fizzle into failure. His interrogations are risibly weak and callow. He is the most unimaginative and unresourceful spy ever put to paper. His girlfriend is pathetic. While we are obviously supposed to root for the success of the couple, halfway through she snogs a man who is such a cliche of arseholery (name of Hugo, Goldman Sachs banker, slick back hair etc etc) that she is clearly a dick. Her neediness and insecurity are an insult to her sex. The cliches come so thick and fast in this book as to be asphyxiating. The plot limps along in a total vacuum of originality or surprise. The character arcs are universally smooth and predictable. The technical information is so injudiciously rationed that reading it feels like getting waterboarded by Q. I kept going after the first 30 pages because I was interested in the Colombian subject matter. I kept reading after 200 pages to see if I could work out if it was a piss-take. I kept reading after 350 pages because it was so funny. Then, best of all, as you turn the final page after the inevitable full-cast acceptance/affirmation/validation of our hero, you are offered the first chapter in the next book. No thanks.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Elite Group

    A great debut novel When SIS operative Jeremy Benton is murdered in Tumaco, Colombia, ex-SBS and ‘probationary’ agent Luke Carlton, who spent his childhood growing up in Colombia, is despatched to investigate. What he uncovers not only puts his own life, and those close to him, at risk, but means that an entire nation is relying on his actions to discover the means and end of a highly-organised international plot against the UK. Big cheese El Pobrecito – ‘poor little thing’ – has decided that enou A great debut novel When SIS operative Jeremy Benton is murdered in Tumaco, Colombia, ex-SBS and ‘probationary’ agent Luke Carlton, who spent his childhood growing up in Colombia, is despatched to investigate. What he uncovers not only puts his own life, and those close to him, at risk, but means that an entire nation is relying on his actions to discover the means and end of a highly-organised international plot against the UK. Big cheese El Pobrecito – ‘poor little thing’ – has decided that enough is enough. The US, and particularly the UK, have been interfering with his narcotics business for far too long, and it has cost him too much money to carry on doing nothing about it. In co-operation with a rogue state, and using the attributes of his mini-submarines usually used for smuggling the drugs, he has concocted a plan that will wipe the smile off the faces of those gringos – literally! Frank Gardner has penned a great first novel that combines all the attributes of a riveting thriller. The main character of Luke Carlton is likeable but not always invincible and that adds to his attraction. Other characters, particularly within the annals of MI6, are also recognisable and substantial within the overall plot. He has, in addition, used his considerable knowledge of security – being the BBC’s Security Correspondent – to produce a great, page-turning debut novel. And, hopefully, it paves the way for a series in which Luke Carlton will appear again. Thank you Frank Gardner. This is a super book which I have no hesitation in recommending. Sméagol Breakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nigel Smith

    I have the utmost respect for Frank Gardner and his dedication to journalistic excellence. However, I can't help but wonder why his friends and (particularly) his editor didn't have a quiet word in Frank's ear before he contemplated publishing "Crisis". The most complimentary phrase that I can use to describe this book is "cringe-worthy". I have just finished reading Crisis and I feel cheated, not just by Transworld, Penguin and Bantam Books but also Frederick Forsythe for his glowing recommenda I have the utmost respect for Frank Gardner and his dedication to journalistic excellence. However, I can't help but wonder why his friends and (particularly) his editor didn't have a quiet word in Frank's ear before he contemplated publishing "Crisis". The most complimentary phrase that I can use to describe this book is "cringe-worthy". I have just finished reading Crisis and I feel cheated, not just by Transworld, Penguin and Bantam Books but also Frederick Forsythe for his glowing recommendation (I can only assume that Fred took his review fee without actually troubling himself with reading it - a very smart move !). In fact, did ANYONE proof-read the text ? I could provide a copy covered in yellow highlighted to identify the unforgivable howlers. I will be giving the next thrilling installment of Luke "Babes" Carlton's adventures a very wide berth indeed.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nick Brett

    Enjoyed this, the first fiction offering from Frank Gardner. Very much in the vein of McNab and Ryan and while Mr Gardner may not be as expert on weapons and tactics he does the bigger picture stuff very well. Like Carlton is new to British Intelligence with a background in special services. Having the language skills he is sent to Colombia to follow up on the death of an agent, only to find that for the drug cartels, there is nothing they will not do to protect their trade or to extract revenge. Enjoyed this, the first fiction offering from Frank Gardner. Very much in the vein of McNab and Ryan and while Mr Gardner may not be as expert on weapons and tactics he does the bigger picture stuff very well. Like Carlton is new to British Intelligence with a background in special services. Having the language skills he is sent to Colombia to follow up on the death of an agent, only to find that for the drug cartels, there is nothing they will not do to protect their trade or to extract revenge. Carlton (and his bosses) eventually discover a plan that is ingenious, cunning and poses a real threat to the UK. Well written and intelligent thriller, I enjoyed this one.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ed Manley

    Fantastic, engaging page turner. Well written and a solid well researched story line. Lee Child eat your heart out. Great read Very engaging Definitely worth the money for escapism I would definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting a fast thrill ride through the world of cartels and cocaine

  21. 5 out of 5

    Josh Lewis

    I enjoyed the story and the writing of this book. It does seem to go on a bit longer than needs be but it is so action packed and enjoyable that you don't mind too much. I thought the ending was poor after all the build up but, I do think that I will read the follow up 'Ultimatum' and continue the Luke Carlton adventures. A bit of a fun read, you can guess what's coming but it's nice to feel like you could be an author by guessing. Solid 4 out of 5 for me. I enjoyed the story and the writing of this book. It does seem to go on a bit longer than needs be but it is so action packed and enjoyable that you don't mind too much. I thought the ending was poor after all the build up but, I do think that I will read the follow up 'Ultimatum' and continue the Luke Carlton adventures. A bit of a fun read, you can guess what's coming but it's nice to feel like you could be an author by guessing. Solid 4 out of 5 for me.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Stacey Woods

    Generally good plot, but the style was a little too 'tell', rather than 'show' for me - I realise there are things that need to be explained, but the way it was done spoiled the flow, making this thriller a little less thrilling. Luke Carlton was a good character, but some of the supporting characters were a bit cartoonish. Many thanks to Transworld for the review copy. Generally good plot, but the style was a little too 'tell', rather than 'show' for me - I realise there are things that need to be explained, but the way it was done spoiled the flow, making this thriller a little less thrilling. Luke Carlton was a good character, but some of the supporting characters were a bit cartoonish. Many thanks to Transworld for the review copy.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Emma Carey

    I think I would have to rate this book a 3.5/5 rather than a 3/5. I felt a bit more of a connection with the setting of this novel as it is based in London and that is where I am living at the moment. It is quite exciting being able to read a novel and know exactly where the main character's workplace is because you have been in that area before in real life. I haven't had that type of setting connection before when reading a novel, coming from New Zealand I haven't read many books which are set I think I would have to rate this book a 3.5/5 rather than a 3/5. I felt a bit more of a connection with the setting of this novel as it is based in London and that is where I am living at the moment. It is quite exciting being able to read a novel and know exactly where the main character's workplace is because you have been in that area before in real life. I haven't had that type of setting connection before when reading a novel, coming from New Zealand I haven't read many books which are set in New Zealand. I guess I should probably change that hey. I really did enjoy the main character Luke, we didn't really get to uncover a hell of a lot about him. We got to learn a bit about his line of work being a secret agent for the London MI5, we learnt a bit about his younger years when he grew up in Colombia (the other half to the novels setting), but mostly we got to learn about his lovely girlfriend Elise and their budding relationship which was slightly hindered due to his line of work. I felt for Elise a bit in this novel, you could feel her pain as she hardly knew where her boyfriend kept dissappearing to and just when she thought he was back for good, he was off on another mission. Past half way is where the suspense begins, a slow and steady start but it does get there and the true gripping chapters come out to play. A race against time as Luke tries to save the country from a terror attack as well as pin down an extremely dangerous drug cartel in Colombia. At one point while I was in bed, I got so anxious I couldn't quite sleep because of the intense plot that was unraveling in this book, to me that is when I know i've got my hands on a goodie. Without giving too much else away, I do have to admit I was a bit dissapointed with the ending. The lead up to the last two chapters had me squirming in my seat wondering what the hell would happen next, only to then turn the page and read a very underwhelming ending. The novel is written well and it is more focused on the storyline rather than much else. I will look into reading some more books by this author.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I guess the strongest description of how I feel about this one is that it was fine. The action sequences were good, the writing style was decent and I really felt that he knew his stuff when describing the political and military elements (not too surprising from Frank Gardner). That said, there were some aspects of the plot that could have been made tighter or that felt unnecessary. This is a long book and it could have been improved by removing some of the scenes that didn't further the plot. Wh I guess the strongest description of how I feel about this one is that it was fine. The action sequences were good, the writing style was decent and I really felt that he knew his stuff when describing the political and military elements (not too surprising from Frank Gardner). That said, there were some aspects of the plot that could have been made tighter or that felt unnecessary. This is a long book and it could have been improved by removing some of the scenes that didn't further the plot. While the prologue sets us up to understand the motivation of Luke Carlton (ladies man, man's man, man about town), our military/spy everyman hero, it feels clumsy and would have been better uncovered slowly during the course of our time with him. Similarly, Luke's girlfriend Elise never felt like a believable person with true thoughts and emotions and a narrative of her own. She's made of a bundle of clichés - insecure, lonely girlfriend and damsel in distress. While she does get the opportunity to come into her own a little, it's not handled in a way that felt narratively truthful, and, like the prologue, the flirtation with her friend and Luke's jealously felt clumsy too. This is a first novel and it felt that way, for example characters appear but then serve no purpose, perhaps as setup for their appearance in sequels, and we're treated to long descriptions of who people are and what they do, Maybe the series will improve as Gardner writes more and, if you're looking for something Tom Clancy-esque, this will definitely do the trick but, for me, it never quite lived up to it's potential to move the needle from "fine" to "great".

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andy Ritchie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Although there is an element of the formulaic (hero is ex-SBS and doesn't play by the rules, storyline is about a plot to wreak havoc in the UK, the boss back at SIS can't quite be trusted, etc.) this novel has enough going for it in terms of engaging and interesting characters, plot-twists, tension and pace to work really well. And Frank Gardner should get plaudits for both the depth of research and also how well he tackled the difficult task of keeping the conversations between characters both Although there is an element of the formulaic (hero is ex-SBS and doesn't play by the rules, storyline is about a plot to wreak havoc in the UK, the boss back at SIS can't quite be trusted, etc.) this novel has enough going for it in terms of engaging and interesting characters, plot-twists, tension and pace to work really well. And Frank Gardner should get plaudits for both the depth of research and also how well he tackled the difficult task of keeping the conversations between characters both believable, and understandable to the layman, in equal measure. My only criticisms? The denouement is not quite as satisfying as you could perhaps have expected from the build-up, the villain at times comes across as a little too incompetent to run a billion-dollar drugs empire, and there are a few loose ends that I would have preferred to have had tied off (Did Luke ever get his revenge on Major Elzeron? What fate befell Keith Gammon? Was the capture of Ana Maria really as simple as tracing her mobile phone? In many ways, I felt the book needed a classic Epilogue in which these little niggles could all be addressed). But these criticisms only mean that a really good book is not quite a great book, and leaving them to one side, it can be said that Frank Gardner's first work of fiction is well worth a look if the action thriller genre is your bag - I'll certainly be picking up the next in the series.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Matt Edge

    I found this quite painful to read with simplistic language, a plot which was a stretch logically, and with weak stereotypical characters. Some very minor spoilers below but not much more than - hey the main guy doesn't die even though it seems like he might a couple of times. The main character is a box-tick hero caricature; tragic back story, special forces, bi-lingual native Spanish speaker, MI6, degree in chemical engineering. Oh, don't let me forget, he is also drop dead gorgeous ("was he a I found this quite painful to read with simplistic language, a plot which was a stretch logically, and with weak stereotypical characters. Some very minor spoilers below but not much more than - hey the main guy doesn't die even though it seems like he might a couple of times. The main character is a box-tick hero caricature; tragic back story, special forces, bi-lingual native Spanish speaker, MI6, degree in chemical engineering. Oh, don't let me forget, he is also drop dead gorgeous ("was he a model, she hoped not"). I have read worse (I Am Pilgrim) but really.... Lots of reviews comment on the book being well researched and realistic but I struggle with this assessment. Perhaps the acronyms are correct but aside from this, lots didn't pass the test for me (noting that I have never been near any of this sort of things in real-life so I could be completely wrong). Here is an example, the main character goes completely rogue, directly goes against orders, lies about authorisation for a major mission, then completely botches things up, including many 'good guys' dead and himself captured by the 'bad guys'. Somehow this is then treated like a small misdemeanour for the rest of the book. I could go on. Not for me.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    In this novel Frank Gardner blends his journalistic talent with personal experience; he describes the pain Luke Carlton endures from a drill used on his foot, and subsequently he has to use a wheel chair. This personal side of the novel made me appreciate it all the more. It is a fun read and as close to watching a movie as possible, with product placement and all the excitement of an action flick. I admire Frank's vast knowledge of the Middle East, and his ability to speak Arabic, but I had no In this novel Frank Gardner blends his journalistic talent with personal experience; he describes the pain Luke Carlton endures from a drill used on his foot, and subsequently he has to use a wheel chair. This personal side of the novel made me appreciate it all the more. It is a fun read and as close to watching a movie as possible, with product placement and all the excitement of an action flick. I admire Frank's vast knowledge of the Middle East, and his ability to speak Arabic, but I had no idea he can be just as knowledgeable about Latin culture. Frank's subtle sense of humor ebbs now and then to give a nice break from the edgy stuff, he writes that a London bar that serves cocktails with frilly umbrellas has a feel of enforced jollity. The writing is fast paced and draws to an end that shows the strength of Intelligence in preventing terror attacks. In that sense, it succeeds in being a source of comfort. Although this is a hefty book, you cannot put it down until you get to the end. The events move in parallel directions, it reminds me of movies like Benicio del Toro's Traffic . Incidentally, Benicio is mentioned in the book!

  28. 4 out of 5

    David Findlay

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Some spoilers, but better to know. This was SUCH a disappointment. Not only is the prose derivative and feels like it’s been written GCSE student has been told to squeeze every language feature into every paragraph, the plot is exhaustingly long - far more than it needed to be - and the ending is just dull and prosaic. Hours I spent on this. Yes - a few scenes are good for example the first time Luke is in Columbia; but otherwise these other plot points are trivial at best e.g. Elise’s potential Some spoilers, but better to know. This was SUCH a disappointment. Not only is the prose derivative and feels like it’s been written GCSE student has been told to squeeze every language feature into every paragraph, the plot is exhaustingly long - far more than it needed to be - and the ending is just dull and prosaic. Hours I spent on this. Yes - a few scenes are good for example the first time Luke is in Columbia; but otherwise these other plot points are trivial at best e.g. Elise’s potential affair with Hugo Squires (of course he works in the City with a name like that); her convenient mastery of karate which makes her kidnapping last for about 5 minutes; the overly stereotyped and one dimensional Columbia’s cartel characters....tedious. Oh and the portray of MI5/MI6 to make it Bond-like without being Bond-like or Bourne-like too. The only bit I enjoyed was learning about Colombian drugs trade and the various cities in Columbia. So I watched Narcos on Netflix. Much better.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Andy Walker

    I wasn't sure what to expect when I bought this book but I have to say that the author, BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner, has surprised me by writing a tightly constructed and multi-layered novel. I say surprised because, although well informed, Gardner's BBC reports have often seemed to me to lack thorough analysis at times and therefore I wasn't sure what to expect from his first foray into novel writing. I started reading the opening pages in a supermarket and was sufficiently hooked I wasn't sure what to expect when I bought this book but I have to say that the author, BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner, has surprised me by writing a tightly constructed and multi-layered novel. I say surprised because, although well informed, Gardner's BBC reports have often seemed to me to lack thorough analysis at times and therefore I wasn't sure what to expect from his first foray into novel writing. I started reading the opening pages in a supermarket and was sufficiently hooked to buy the book. The fact that I read its 500+ pages in a little over three days indicates that I found it a gripping and interesting tale, pulling together spycraft, political intrigue, international terrorism and corruption. The hero of the story, ex-Special Boat Service commando Luke Carlton, is now set to feature in Gardner's second novel, Ultimatum, due for publication in May 2018. I think I'll be buying it. Recommended.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Alistair Edwards

    Thrillers written by real foreign correspondents interest me. Surely the authors know of what they write. Frank Gardner surely qualifies, having literally been shot in the line of duty. I have also read - and enjoyed Gerald Seymour in this vein. On the plus side, this was a page-turner; I wanted to keep reading to find out what was going to happen. It was an easy and quick read. As most of these 'experts' seem to want to do, Gardner seems to feel obliged to impress us with details, such as naming Thrillers written by real foreign correspondents interest me. Surely the authors know of what they write. Frank Gardner surely qualifies, having literally been shot in the line of duty. I have also read - and enjoyed Gerald Seymour in this vein. On the plus side, this was a page-turner; I wanted to keep reading to find out what was going to happen. It was an easy and quick read. As most of these 'experts' seem to want to do, Gardner seems to feel obliged to impress us with details, such as naming the precise model of night-vision goggles the protagonists use. I already believed his credentials, so I did not need this. The plot is a bit obvious. If there was some tension all too often it was relieved with the simple mechanism of, 'With one bound our hero was free'. Nice try, but I won't be reading the follow-up.

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