by Rana Asfour
‘The Red Cobra’ is book one of a new series by Rob Sinclair featuring James Ryker (previously known as Carl Logan from the Enemy Series by the same author). Judging by my reviews of the previous series at the time, it is evident that I really (I mean REALLY) enjoyed them - hooked more like it. I was sad when the last of the books came out. I was so captivated by macho, no-feelings man Carl Logan and his enigmatic nemesis the Red Cobra, so lodged in the tough, brutally, fast paced and cold world of cloaks and daggers that when the time came for the last installment, I unwillingly acquiesced to the fact that my relationship with these characters had come to an end.
So of course, how thrilled was I, when author Rob Sinclair wrote in to say that actually there was MORE. I was over the moon and raced to purchase the new book ‘The Red Cobra’ and then proceeded to finish it (more accurately devour it) in one sitting. This is a fast paced, action packed thriller with strong female and male protagonists who despite all the brutality are more ‘human’. In terms of writing, this is probably one of Rob Sinclair’s best work to date.
After reading all of this author’s books, I believe that his success is down to writing skill as well as a knack for spell binding storytelling; A cognizant reader will find that words in the text are meticulously chosen, scene descriptions and dialogue are kept short and concise, and the plot sequence tight to the point that it takes only a few chapters into the novel for readers to surrender to a tale that not only runs smoothly along but is completely believable.
I’ll tell you another thing that made this book work for me: the short space of time between the release of the last of the Enemy Series books – ‘The Hunt for the Enemy’ and this one ‘The Red Cobra’ meant that the main characters in this new release were still fresh in my mind. With the gazillion books that I read, had Sinclair taken more time in between books, the job of remembering who was who and what was what would have been a tasking one. Trust me when I say not many readers will take the time out to remember or even have the time to go back and refresh their memory by re-reading up on previous books they thought they were done with. For that alone, well done team Sinclair! I should point out that to appreciate this book in no way implies that you should read the Enemy Series first – although really it does up the level of enjoyment particularly with regards to the identity of the Red Cobra when it’s revealed at the end of this book.
Now comes my dilemma. As this series is a spin off from the ‘Enemy Series’, then this book is essentially book one of a NEW series that nonetheless features the much familiar –but changed - character ‘Carl Logan’ operating under a new name. As someone who has read the entire Enemy series it felt like I was not only back to square one but there was a fear that my adored character was, to my horror, in peril of slipping into stagnation. There was slightly that but I’m just keeping the faith that the author has a solid plan to create a catalyst for James Ryker that will have him fighting his way back to the top of my top ten list of macho fictional characters in the sequels to follow.
However, I will concede that I perhaps feel this way because I am familiar with the previous series but not all readers of this book will be and so as Book One, it becomes the author’s responsibility to set the scene, draw the landscape and define the boundaries that James Ryker (to new readers a completely new character) is to operate his new life by and in that it succeeded beautifully.
With the first book in this new series, Sinclair has presented a question: Will the newly changed Logan be able to survive by the new rules he has set himself in a world that is prevalent with ghosts of the past and enemies that will not let him or those he loves be?
I, for one, will definitely be sticking around to find out.
The Blurb at the back of the book:
Carl Logan dedicated nearly twenty years of his life to the Joint Intelligence Agency. Now living in a secret location, under the new identify of James Ryker, he wants nothing more than to be left alone, the chance to start a new life away from chaos, violence, destruction and deceit.
It’s not long, however, before Ryker’s short-lived idyll is destroyed when he is tracked down by Peter Winter, his ex-boss at the JIA. Winter brings with him news of the murder of a woman in Spain, Kim Walker, whose fingerprints match those of one of Ryker’s former adversaries who’s been missing presumed dead for years - an infamous female assassin known as the Red Cobra.
A cyber attack at the JIA led to the Red Cobra’s profile being compromised, and Winter believes JIA agents may now be at risk too, Ryker included. But Ryker knew the elusive Red Cobra better than anyone, and when he sees the grisly pictures of Kim Walker’s corpse, he has news for Winter - she isn't the assassin at all.
So just who is the mystery dead woman? And where is the real Red Cobra?