Safe From Harm

Written by RJ Bailey

Review written by Philip Gooden

His historical novels include the Nick Revill series, set in Elizabethan London, a Victorian sequence, and a series of Chaucer mysteries, now in in e-books.


Safe From Harm
Simon & Schuster
RRP: £7.99
Released: January 12 2017
PBK

This is the first in a series about Sam Wylde, a PPO or Personal Protection Officer or bodyguard to the rich, famous and paranoid.

Safe From Harm is a whirlwind ride. Sam Wylde starts as a PPO -  there are plenty of initials in this book, beginning with the author’s name  -  to a government minister on a flight to the USA. Within a few pages, she’s disabled a couple of bolshy female drunks, been responsible for an emergency landing, and learned of her husband’s terrorist-style murder. Said husband worked for the Civil Nuclear Constabulary. Or did he? Maybe something else is behind his death. But this is just the kick-off for Sam, who has to deal not only with widowhood and a self-harming daughter but also get herself back into a professional career groove. Two London jobs are on offer, one safeguarding the wife of a Russian oligarch, the other looking after the daughter of a Pakistani textile tycoon. After a violent run-in with the oligarch’s RST (Resident Security Team), Sam takes the second. But nothing is what is seems. The Sharif family are hiding secrets, and Sam is persuaded into spying on them. 

As well as all these threads, there are substantial backstories involving Sam’s time in the army in Afghanistan and her late husband’s military service in Bosnia. And then there’s husband no.1, who’s back in the picture after the murder of no.2. Safe From Harm occasionally threatens to collapse under the weight of its own plot and counter-plot, and the need for exposition. What keeps it going is a lot of twistiness and expertise and a lively way with dialogues, fights and hair's-breadth escapes. If you didn’t know from the energetic writing and ballsy heroine that this was just the beginning, then the ending which leaves things on a cliff-edge would tell you that there is more to come. In fact it’s only at the very end that we even learn the lead character’s full name, rather in the style of James Bond announcing himself in the final frames of the rebooted Casino Royale.

I’d say that Sam Wylde is here to stay.

 

 

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