Adam Colclough lives and works in the West Midlands, he writes regularly for a number of websites, one day he will get round to writing a book for someone else to review.
In war torn Kabul a ‘businessman’ dies in an apparent suicide, an investigation led by incorruptible Murder Squad boss Osama Kandar suggests he may have been murdered instead. Meanwhile in Switzerland Nick Snee, an employee of shadowy security organisation the Entity, is looking for Leonard Mandrake, a man with information the Entity wants at any cost. As links between their investigations grow both men will have to face mortal danger as they reveal truths the authorities would prefer stayed hidden.
The conspiracy thriller is a familiar sub-genre, and, if done well, one that can be hugely entertaining; in The Mandrake File Cedric Bannel does it very well indeed.
His description of an Afghanistan brutalised by decades of war where corruption is endemic and matters are further complicated by a tangle of tribal and religious allegiances is chillingly convincing. As is his depiction of the often self serving behaviour of western security services and NGO’s operating in the country.
The Swiss set sections of the book seem, at first weaker, largely due to the tale of a dutiful company man discovering just how shady his employers really are being a familiar thriller trope; however the unusual location keeps things fresh. Who would have thought cities in orderly Switzerland had such mean streets?
Bannel keeps the action moving at a tremendous pace and is utterly unsparing in the suffering he visits upon his characters. In the world he creates violence is commonplace but never glamorised and being on the side of right is no guarantee of survival.
This and his accuracy about the dysfunctional horrors of everyday life in Afghanistan more than makes up for Bannel’s occasional tendency to expound political points that might better have been implied.
Translated by award-winning freelance French to English translator, Polly McLean