“ Author: Andy McNab / Genre: Crime/Thriller/Mystery / Narrator: Paul Thornley „
Dead Centre by Andy Mcnab
== Plot ==
This is the fourteenth book in the Nick Stone series.
Nick Stone is a former SAS soldier who has worked for the British security services in the past. He now works freelance, doing missions from time to time.
AT the start of this, Nick is in Sumatra, Indonesia at the beginning of 2005. He is there just after the tsunami that hit on 26th December 2004.
He is working with two other operators (Mong and Bibi) to destroy some confidential documents for their current client. Things don't go to plan and Mong gets killed. Nick promises the dying man that he will take care of his wife, Tracey.
Then the story moves to the present (March 2011) and Moscow. Nick is now living with his girlfriend Anna.
He finds out that Tracey and her son have been kidnapped by pirates in war-torn Somalia. Tracey's new husband, Frank asks him to help find her and his son . . .
== My thoughts ==
I learnt all I know about Somalia by watching a Southpark episode. It is a cartoon for adults. The episode was based around the rescue of US hostages in 2009 when US marines shot three pirates simultaneously,. In that Cartman travels to Somalia to become a pirate and teach the locals how to be real ones.
Andy McNab must have watched this cartoon also and thought it would make a good novel. He covers most of the topics in that episode but in a serious tone. He makes a small reference to one of the characters in the Southpark cartoon right at the start. Saying that, he has managed to write a novel that kept my attention and that I wanted to read. This was mainly because of the setting, Somalia. It is different from most places and because of the war going on, it made for some good fighting sequences. You get a feel of the chaos and disorder in the country. All the pirates seem to be high and shoot at whatever they want to. Nick spends most of his time ducking 'friendly' fire.
I didn't find he went into too much detail like he usually does in his other novels. He did give a lot of info about Somalia like its history and the clans that control the country, but I found this fascinating. We also get a brief recap of the Black Hawk down incident and how it affected US foreign policy when it came to the genocide in Rwanda and Shrebnizita. I find it quite boring to read history books but I like to learn about new places in novels. I didn't know for example that the people that shot down the Black Hawks back in 1993 were given training by the Mujahedeen on where to hit a helicopter and how to modify their RPG's so they could fire straight up into the sky, and not end up getting fried themselves.
He also tries to explain why things are as they are over there. There is no government there so Western companies end up dumping their toxic waste on their coast. This means a lot of the children are born deformed. There are no longer any fish to feed the fisherman and their families. They end up turning to piracy. He also mentions a little about the war going on in Libya so it is pretty current.
If you've been watching the news lately then you should know that Kenya has just gone into Somalia with its troops to stop Al-Shabab, an Islamic terrorist group from carrying out kidnappings in their country. Al-Shabab also make an appearance in this novel. I thought it allowed me to get a clearer picture of what groups operated inside the country.
You could probably read this stand alone. His friend Julian and Anna, his girlfriend make appearances but you don't really need to know their back-story.
The author, Andy McNab is a former SAS soldier who was captured during the first Gulf War. I wasn't sure if he was trying to make an indirect dig at one of his colleagues on that mission, Chris Ryan in this. He was one of the guys that was in Iraq with Andy McNab when he was caught but Chris got away. Bibi, one of the characters in this novel has a pretty similar background to Chris and he is a medic. He got in to the SAS through the selection test before which he was a normal civilian and not by serving time in the regular army. He is also Jordy which is what Chris is if I recall correctly. He paints him as being arrogant and a prick.
There is quite a bit of profanity, with the f word being used frequently. I didn't mind it as I thought it suited the situation and the characters. One of the characters who swears a lot is Jo, a Zimbabwean who is the pilot of a light aircraft. I found him quite funny due to the accent the narrator gives him and the fact that he keeps saying stuff like 'all these f*ing flip flops are crazy man.' He calls the Somali's flip flops as a lot of them wear these.
== Audio narration ==
This was read by Paul Thornley. The novel is told in the first person so Nick is the one talking most of the time. I thought the reader's voice sounded too young and slightly too boyish to be Nick's. He does the voices of all the other characters well.
This was unabridged and is 12 hours and 31 mins in length.
== Summary and recommendation ==
I give this three stars. The overall plot is pretty basic but I enjoyed this mainly because of the fact it was set somewhere different that I don't know much about. The fighting sequences were also not something I normally read as Nick spends most of his time trying to duck bullets from both the enemy and his side as they are all high and doing their own thing. McNab should base more of his novels in war-torn countries. He describes the fighting in excellent detail.
Indonesia, January 2005. Nick Stone is working to retrieve incriminating material from amongst the tsunami-ravaged landscape. His team is attacked, and a man dies - but not before he makes an agonising promise that will return one day to haunt him. Moscow, March 2011. Semi-retired but restless, Stone finds him at the centre of a mission that leads him from the Alpine enclaves of the super-rich to the savage underbelly of war-torn Somalia. The fuse is lit, and Stone is hurtled into his most complex and compelling mission yet.