Paperback 502 pages (December 10, 1999 Version)
Categories: Fiction , Crime, Thrillers & Mystery
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Colin Forbes has written now over 40 Books, both as Colin Forbes and other names, including Jay Bernard and Harold English. He wrote his first book published as Colin Forbes (Tramp in Armour) in 1969 and since then all of his books have been published with this name. His real name is apparently Raymond Sawkins.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Now this is a book about Tweed and his colleagues, including Paula Grey and Bob Newmann among others.
Right the basic story is that the British Prime Minister is assassinated and an attempt is made on the CIA Director's life.
British spies Tweed, Paula Grey and Bob Newman are called in and they discover a massive conspiracy.
Meanwhile, London is paralysed by several terrorist attacks and scores of Americans are entering the country to solve the problem.
Now then, Colin Forbes, another of the Authors that I have read most of his books and enjoyed just about every one of them.
Firstly as I have stated above this is a Novel about Tweed. Now if you know Colin Forbes novels, then you will know that a lot of them are about Tweed and his group and these stories can be quite simular. Basically evil baddy fights good and good wins. Very basic, but true for a number of his books. This story follows a simular theme, however I think that it is probably one of Colin Forbes best books. I definetely enjoyed reading it, and the story definetely grapped me. Should you not have read any of his books before, then I would definetely recommend this as a starting book. It is interesting, exciting, has a good story and a good ending and is definetely worth reading.
Secondly, the plot is in this book actually kinda believable in a very scary way. Although it is kinda far fetched, it could happen and that made the book that much more interesting to me.
Next the characters, now if you know the books, then there is nothing much to say here, but for those who might be new, I will highlight a couple of points. Basically this book has everything, the clever good Boss who is kind, thoughtfull but also can take action (Tweed), the Babe who is both intelligent, good looking and brave (Paula Grey), the evil killer / mastermind and the entire package between. I have really come to enjoy Colin Forbes books because of the way that I have got to like the characters in them, definetely worth recommending to you if you like books with good characters.
Note that this book does talk about terrorist attacks in London and the story revolves around this. I thought with recent events in London, I should highlight this point in case you were affected a lot.
Worth mentioning, if you have read other Colin Forbes books and did not like them, then don't bother reading this one, as they are all quite similar.
RECAP: Very good book with a good story and excellent characters. Definetely recommend this book as an easy to read, entertaining and thrilling book.
Verdict: 4 out of 5
Late one evening, Paula Grey bumps into Cord Dillon outside Brown's Hotel in London. Dillon's the recently removed head of the C.I.A and Paula works for the English S.I.S. This is not a friendly meeting between two professionals, though, but a rather fortunate coincidence for Dillon as assassins are hunting him down. Thinking quickly, Paula grabs Dillon and manages to make her way to the offices of the S.I.S. where her boss, Tweed, can appraise the situation.
It becomes apparent that something sinister is happening in Britain and that America is heavily involved. But what exactly is going on? Does it have anything to do with the mysterious assassin, The Phantom, who has recently killed several important politicians across Europe including the Prime Minister? Who are the American thugs who have secretly poured into the country with diplomatic passports and immunity? How does the mysterious "Charlie" fit into this puzzle?
As Dillon is packed off to a secret bunker, Tweed instantly recognises that time is a factor in this case and he and his team set out to discover what exactly is going on and how it can be stopped, if necessary.
From the very start, "This United State" sets off at a cracking pace and doesn't let up until the very end. This works in its favour as the writing isn't outstanding, but the pace of the story keeps the pages turning until the climax. I've never read anything by Colin Forbes before, but I got the impression from this book that Tweed and his crew were characters that cropped up regularly in Forbes' stories. This didn't affect my enjoyment of the book because "This United State" is self-contained, much like a James Bond movie, although like those you probably would benefit from being familiar with the characters.
The story takes place across the western part of Europe. Starting in London, we're transported to Switzerland, Germany and France as Tweed chases down leads. Forbes claims that he visits each place featured in the story to give it believability and add atmosphere, but I really didn't see this coming across in the writing. There are a large cast of main characters and it can be troublesome at times keeping up with all of them, especially some of the minor "bad guys". Tweed himself has at least six colleagues with additional hangers on plus there are at least another dozen characters that show up throughout the book.
I thought the characterisation was quite poor. Each of the main characters is bulked out over time and most are definitely more substantial by the end of the book, although this doesn't necessarily mean they are better. They also tend towards the stereotypical; English men are polite and well dressed for the most part, Americans are brash and uncouth etc. It was also annoying reading passages where the author introduces a trait to get a character out of a problem. For example, the book might say something like: "Tweed wasn't a big drinker normally, but had the ability to be able to drink large quantities of alcohol at a moment's notice without getting drunk," just after Tweed knocks back his third large Scotch and suddenly needs his wits about him.
Where the book does shine, is the plot. The minor details might not be particularly realistic, but the overall aims of the "bad guys" are really not beyond the realms of impossibility, especially in this day and age. I think that the believability of the main plot also helps to cover the cracks in the writing.
I am very much in two minds about the book. On the one hand, the book does move along at a fair pace and coupled with the overall story, this makes it an enjoyable enough, although not outstanding, read. However, despite being someone who can easily overlook the standard of writing (and usually does), there were instances where I got annoyed as people often displayed unusual characteristics that were promptly explained by the author in an arbitrary way. I'm not sure that it really reduced my enjoyment of the book this time, but I felt the author could have done better and would perhaps be wary when trying another of Forbes' stories.
The blurb on the book claims that Forbes publishes a book every year, but reading this you'd be forgiven for thinking that Mr Forbes might take heed of the phrase "quality, not quantity". If you're a fan of tight writing and deep characterisation, then Forbes might not be for you. If you're more into something that keeps you turning pages irrespective of writing quality, then you could do worse.