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Dark Winter by Andy McNab
== Plot ==
This is the sixth book in the Nick Stone series. He is an ex-SAS soldier now living in the US and working for US intelligence services and occasionally sent over to work for the UK. He is a deniable operator, carrying out missions that both governments don't want to accept responsibility for.
The plot revolves around some biological weapons that have been smuggled into the UK. Terrorists are planning to use them on an attack in London. The UK and US launch a joint mission to stop it. He is paired with a female deniable operator in this, called Suzy to help him with his mission. Nick and Suzy must find the bio weapons before they are used and end up killing thousands.
We also get to see a bit more into Nick's personal life, as he tries to straighten things out with his god-daughter Kelly who he has responsibility for.
== My Review ==
Nick is a heartless killer but we are expected to feel sorry for him. At the start, he is sent to kill some al-Qaeda terrorist in Malaysia working as a waiter. In the process Suzy manages to kill someone who's travelling with him at the time, who may have been innocent. He just shrugs it off as nothing major.
You can see the two sides of him though, as the novel progresses, on one side he's going out killing people and then on the other side he's trying to sort out his personal life. His god-daughter Kelly is now a teenager and is doing what teenagers do and being moody and experimenting with drugs. They both find it difficult to express their emotions to each other.
By the end, I did feel the terror and emotion that he was going through, as events unfolded and his professional and personal life's mingled into one. Although, a vital decision he makes about half way through the novel, seemed quite stupid to me, but I have never been put in a situation where my family is in danger.
I thought the Suzy character was a bit of a syco and easily excitable. She's always laughing and eager to go into action. The author attempts to explain her behaviour by giving us a glimpse into her past. However, she came across as being mentally unstable or having a death wish to me.
The plot wasn't one that gripped me. When I read a novel, I like to read about places I've not been to before whereas this is set in the UK. The structure is the same as his last few novels; he does a small mission at the start, and then is given a new mission which leads him to spend the rest of the time carrying out reconnaissance on terrorists and the buildings they may be using.
There is some violence in this which is somewhat graphic. However, it seemed to be dispersed quite sparingly throughout the story.
I have noticed that in nearly every book, he recounts the events that happened in the first novel in the series. He has a flashback of finding Kelly's family dead in their home and then finding Kelly herself hiding and in shock.
I understand this is a good way to get people up-to-date with Nick's past life who have not read the previous novels, and also to show that he has his own nightmares that he has to face. Saying that, I've read the previous few novels in this series in quick succession, and I find the constant reminder irritating.
== Summary and recommendation ==
I have decided to give this 2 stars. The main reason for that is I liked the ending; hopefully it will make for a better novel in the next book in this series. I didn't enjoy the rest of the novel. There wasn't anything to make me interested - I knew from the start what Nick's and Suzy's objective was, to stop the bio weapons. It doesn't take much thinking to work out what the ending will be. However, there is a personal angle added on which I thought was ok.
I would prefer the author to spend more time on writing action sequences, instead of wasting time on explaining the how, who and what of why Nic is following people around and planning the mission to bring them down for the majority of the novel.
To date, this is the only book by Andy McNab that I have read. I have avoided the author's more famous offering namely Bravo Two Zero which relates the author's true story of a mission gone wrong, whilst an active member of the S.A.S. I felt that, perhaps it would seem like a retired soldier, masquerading as a novelist and wouldn't be worth reading. Also, like a lot of people, I already knew the story behind the book having watched a documentary about the horrific beatings he received as a prisoner of Iraqi soldiers. However, I decided to give his fictional story Dark Winter a chance as at least I didn't know the ending before I started.
The title of the book was inspired by the code name given to a mock bio-terrorist attack that took place in America in 2001. The attack simulated what would happen if the USA became the victim of a covert and widespread smallpox attack. This gives you a clue as to the story line of the book without giving too much away.
The main character is Nick Stone who is sent by the CIA to Malaysia to assassinate a biochemist. Nick wrongly assumes this will be a straightforward assignment but he hadn't reckoned on complications or having to work alongside a very attractive woman. On returning to the USA from Malaysia, Nick has to deal with the problems being encountered by 14 year old Kelly. Kelly is an orphan with a traumatic past and Nick is her joint guardian. To help her tackle her drug habit he decides to take her to England to receive treatment. However, it isn't long before he discovers a plot that threatens the population of 3 of the major cities in the world, namely Berlin, New York and London. Unfortunately this leaves Nick with a very personal dilemma, does he save the life of a person much loved by himself or millions of total strangers.
McNab isn't quite up there with the detail that other well-known authors provide but this doesn't detract from the plot and I still enjoyed the book. Dark Winter is the 6th book by McNab featuring agent Nick Stone. Others in the series include -
If they are half as good as Dark Winter then I will certainly be reading some of these titles in the future.
Currently priced at £5.49 on Amazon.
It took me a while to get to reading this book, it was sitting on the shelf for a while and kept drawing me to it (i think it was because it had a picture of a big gun on it) so I started reading it and have been hooked on the series ever since:
This book unlike Andy McNabs most famous book 'Bravo Two Zero' is eintirly fictional and is part of a series of books following Agent Nick stone a deniable agent (sort of like a realistic James Bond)
Although the plot is fictional it is evident that Andy McNab was actually part of the special forces, his experiance comes through in the details of his writing.
The Plot in dark winter is very modern and follows current events including Terrorism, chemical warfare among Nick stones personal life problem, all this makes dark witer an interesting exciting read with many unexpected plot turns.
In my opinion this book and te other series of books would make fantastic films and could provide an english rival to the bourne books & fllms
My only complaint is that the series is quite hard to follow which order the books come in if you are buying back publications manybe they could have numbered them to make it a little easeir to follow.