Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Greg Rucka

Mulholland Books UK, 2012

Jad Bell, a former military man, who fighted in wars in the elite U.S. troops, now unemployed, remained without a job not a long time. From the head of one of the secret services Jed gets an offer - to become a consulting security manager in one of the largest entertainment parks of the country. Bell feels that something is wrong, but accepts the offer, and the management of the park happily takes Bell to work as an undercover. The park is similar to Disneyland: thousands of visitors every day, billions dollars profit every year, maximum what can happen is one of the kids falls down and scratches his knee. The only thing that gives a signal to the alarm is a dead body of one of park employees found next to a park, and there are serious concerns that a man was killed in the park.

In parallel Rucka tells the story of a young man from Odessa, recruited by a terrorist organization, which makes a young man an American, transporting him to the United States, sending to serve in the American army, and then to university. The Ukrainian, whose real name is Matias, will be a leader of the capture of the park, and Bell will try to neutralize the terrorists, especially since on the day of attack in the park comes Jad's ex-wife and his daughter Athena.

The book has been compared with “Die Hard”, and they do have similarities. The resemblance is superficial, as in "Die Hard" not for the first time the plot about the release of the hostages by a tough guy has been used. Bell, as the military (even then, probably, the word "former" is superfluous), leads a team of soldiers, all of whom serve in the U.S. Special Forces. The point is, a team of terrorists was trained in the same Special Forces. Rucka surprises, when makes Bell’s daughter deaf: Athena and her classmates come to the park from the school for deaf children.

Rucka will surprise the reader a lot of times, especially you here will be tormenting by those questions: who are these terrorists and what they need. Although Rucka also tells the story from the bad guy’s point of view, it does not make the situation clearer. The novel will be read in two sitings, as the pages will fly.

But still: «Alpha» is a good commercial fiction, but not just a good fiction. Too many cliches here, too much calculated, and you can see, how an editor and writer have work on the plot. There is the violence there, but it is harmless. There are twists, but not too much, so that the reader won’t be confused.

Last year, Mulholland Books published two books by Duane Swierczynski, «Fun & Games» and «Hell & Gone». So Swierczynski played with cliches and patterns far more successful, he much less worried about what reader would love and what not. His books are more fun and more original.

«Alpha» is a book from that category, so it is impossible to close the book before the ending, but I hoped it would be something more than this.

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