Monday, 14 December 2015

The Angel by Mark Dawson

This isn’t the first book of Mark Dawson’s that I’ve read and reviewed. I’ve read all three of his Beatrix Rose trilogy and gave them glowing reviews. But The Angel is by far the best book of his that I’ve read.

To read the plot outline you could easily suspect it would be anything but, I know I did. Isabella Rose is the daughter of Beatrix Rose, a former government assassin who used to be employed by a shadowy arm of the British state known as Group Fifteen. In the Beatrix Rose Trilogy, Beatrix who was dying of cancer, sought vengeance on those who had betrayed her, murdered her husband, and caused her to give up her daughter to care. Now reunited with Isabella, she also trains her daughter in her mould. So in other words at the start of The Angel, fifteen year old Isabella Rose has the skill set of an uber-assassin.

You can see how this book could have been rubbish, can’t you? This could have been a dire popcorn fest, a parody of a bad eighties action movie where a fifteen year old whacks endless supplies of baddies. But to author Mark Dawson’s credit he doesn’t do this. Instead he has penned a gripping and intelligent thriller about international terrorism. In fact the first half of the book hardly features Isabella, instead describing a series of devastating terror attacks, which strike at the heart of Westminster. I found these scenes that extraordinarily well written. 

Isabella’s entrance proper comes later when Michael Pope, the current head of Group Fifteen, discovers that the attacks were financed by a Saudi billionaire who’s son is a pupil at an exclusive Swiss boarding school. Finding no other way to penetrate the Saudi’s security, he hits on the idea of planting Isabella in the school as a pupil, tasking her with befriending the playboy son and getting an invite to a party at his father’s mansion where she will plant surveillance devices.

This part of the story is perfectly written for the character of Isabella, enabling her to use the skill set her mother taught her (as well as the more violent methods, she was taught surveillance and counter surveillance, subterfuge, etc) without turning her into an adolescent Rambo/superwoman. The author’s descriptions of the school, it’s haughty student body, the bitchiness of some of Isabella’s classmates are exquisitely  realised and quite unusual in this kind of novel.

All in all I was thoroughly impressed by The Angel, yet another great novel from an author whose prodigious output I am frankly in awe to. As an unpublished author myself, I can only hope to one day be publishing books at his rate and can’t wait to see where he takes Isabella next.

I give this 5 out of 5 stars

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