Monday, 14 September 2015

In Cold Blood by Mark Dawson

Mark Dawson is something of a hero of mine. As an aspiring author myself I am in awe of the amount of work he manages to produce. What’s more it’s all of a consistently high standard. For many years he’s been self-published and has been very successful. Unlike many self-published writers, his books aren’t riddled with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Nor are his stories littered with plot holes. His Beatrix Rose trilogy is the first to be picked up by a mainstream publisher, commissioned by Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer imprint. I find it absolutely amazing that it’s taken a publisher this long to come knocking at his door, his work is that good.

So In Cold Blood, the first in the Beatrix Rose trilogy. Is it any good? Well yes actually, unsurprisingly it is. Beatrix is a super-assassin; think a female equivalent of Jason Bourne, albeit less the amnesia, angst and moral compunction. By that I don’t mean she’s psychopathic in some way, more that she has a laser like focus on her objectives, which in this trilogy is revenge. We were first introduced to Beatrix in Dawson’s earlier works, which centred on an assassin named John Milton. Beatrix was employed by Group 15, the same unit as Milton, and was a contemporary. The back-story to her own trilogy is that she was betrayed by Control, the head of Group 15, her husband murdered, her daughter taken away from her. In Cold Blood picks up the plot a good few years later, Beatrix is reunited with her daughter and they are in hiding in Marrakech where she plots her revenge on Control and the agents he sent after her family.

In Cold Blood sees our heroine receive help from the new head of Group 15 as she plots her revenge. She discovers that one of the agents sent to kill her is a hostage of pirates in Somalia and off she goes. I don’t want to say anymore about the plot at risk of divulging spoilers, but needles to say there follows a lot of high-octane mayhem and violence.

Mark Dawson develops Beatrix’s character well. We have a real sense of her motivations and her burning desire to avenge the injustice done to her family. He is also very good at evoking a sense of place. I don’t know how well travelled he is but I found his description of Marrakech and a refugee camp in Kenya convincing. Later in the novel, his description of Somalia is equally compelling. With a character like Beatrix with the skill-set she has, there is always a danger that slip into caricature, a two-dimensional Rambo type figure, unstoppable, mowing down baddie after baddie. The author avoids this and while the reader knows she has to survive (after all this is the first in the trilogy) he manages to still ingrain a sense of peril.

I award this book 5 stars

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