In 1976 whilst serving in Beirut an SAS team are asked to plan a bank robbery on the Imperial Bank Of Beirut as a training exercise. It was simply meant to be a training exercise at the time but when the new Major rubbishes Kilbride's idea. So when he and his team are sent in to do some recognisance on the bank he decides to prove the Major wrong and prove that his plan was a good one, stealing a large amount of gold in the process and hiding it in the Lebanon. Now in the present day it is time for Kilbride and his team to return and retrieve their gold, but a terrorist organisation is keen to regain their money and will do whatever it takes to stop Kilbride's team.
I'd never come across author Damien Lewis before but after a chance encounter with this book in Sainsbury's I decided to give him ago. He has taken the rumours of what appear to have been a true event back in the 70's and worked a very believable and auctioned packed story out of it. This was the biggest bank robbery of it's time and yet there still appears to be no real clues as to who pulled it off, Lewis however does create a very vivid and enjoyable story based on these events.
It is an incredibly fast paced plot and although I found the first chapter to be a little harder going it does set up the story for the modern day and the second part of the book well. It is a well crafted story that holds your attention throughout the 408 pages. He absorbs you into the story and really grabs your attention, making you interested in what is going to happen to the main characters and whether they are going to make it out of each situation alive or not.
In a way his work is similar to that of Andy McNab or Chris Ryan, where he uses quite descriptive phrases, which show he really has done his research. For fans of either of these authors I think you will certainly enjoy this. As a journalist and broadcaster Lewis seems to have a bit of experience of war torn areas and his descriptions of downtown Beirut are very vivid and really help to create a scene as you read on through the plot.
The story is really helped by the addition of some very strong characters. In particular you really feel a connection with the lead character Kilbride and each of his men. Along with Kilbride you also start to identify with a couple of his men and in particular Bill Berger and his second in charge Phil Smith, both of whom really grow on you as the tale unfolds. It's a real testament to his ability to write a decent story that there aren't any weak characters. He uses his characters incredibly well and through them you really do feel like you are there and the plot is unfolding around you and more importantly it makes you want to carry on reading to find out exactly what's going to happen to them.
Overall I would certainly have no hesitation in recommending Damien Lewis's Cobra 405. It is an entertaining story that holds you attention from the start and while it takes about 20 ages to really get into the story it is well worth it. The slow start can be forgiven quite quickly as the introduction to Kilbride and his men makes you want to read on. I picked this up cheap in Sainsbury's on the off chance it would be half decent and I would certainly say it's been one of my better Supermarket impulse buys of recent times.
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