A Twisty Little Thriller with a Hero You’ll Enjoy Hanging Out With
Having retired from the SAS, Gabriel Wolfe just wants a quiet life with his dog and his Maserati, but fate has other plans. Gabriel worked as an advertising executive after leaving the army, and now runs his own consultancy helping big London firms negotiate deals. His unusual combination of communications skills and elite military background brings him to the attention of Sir Toby Maitland, a snobbish aristocrat who wants to run for Parliament. Maitland wants Gabriel to help run his campaign but put off by Maitland’s reactionary politics and casual racism, Gabriel turns down the job.
But he’s soon contacted by a former intelligence colleague who tells him that Maitland’s plans go well beyond a simple political campaign. And the British government would really like him to take that job.
With good reason, Gabriel soon discovers. Maitland’s run for Parliament is a smoke screen for a full-blown fascist coup. So Gabriel finds himself playing the part of an eager conspirator as he works to unravel Maitland’s scheme. On a trip to the United States to secure black-market weapons, Gabriel will have to face hostile bikers, an arms dealer with a grudge, and more, all while flattering Maitland’s military pretensions to earn his trust and risking everything to pass critical information to his contacts. It keeps him running and dodging toward a violent climax in the English countryside. Gabriel finds himself surrounded by enemies as the seconds tick down and he has one last chance to save his country, and his life.
When Charm Fails, Bring out the Big Guns
Trigger Point is the first of a series of Gabriel Wolfe thrillers that now is up to six books. (The sixth book, Rattlesnake, was just released in February). Clearly, author Andy Maslen is doing something right, and in this first book it’s easy to see the attraction of the series. Gabriel makes good company as he follows the mission where it leads and works his way through a crowd of heinous villains. His charisma lets him make friends of potential enemies (well, sometimes) and gives him interesting options for solving problems beyond simple violence. But when charm doesn’t work, Wolfe is fully capable of taking the fight to the bad guys. It makes for a refreshing slant on an action hero.
Maitland makes a great, threatening villain as well. He glides through the story on a cushion of money and privilege, looking for all the world like a blowhard playing at being the tough guy…until suddenly he’s not playing at all. Maslen also has a way with supporting characters. There are plenty of characters who show up for a scene and then are gone. But they still manage to pop off the page and make an impression.
Maslen also does something interesting in his plotting. He frequently gives Gabriel short-term plot complications that at first make it look like he’s filling space with unnecessary digressions. But when some of them later turn out to be important after all, it raises the question of whether others might as well. And suddenly Maslen has deftly turned what would otherwise be a fairly linear plot (something the genre’s prone to; there’s the bad guy, go stop him) into a twisty little thriller that keeps you guessing right up to the end.
Trigger Point is a fun book with an engaging hero, a surprisingly frightening villain, and well-crafted supporting characters. When you’re done, you might find yourself wanting to spend more time with Gabriel Wolfe. Fortunately, there are plenty more books left to explore.
One of my favorite bits about Trigger Point was the villain’s collection of classic cars, and the Jaguar XK-SS that serves as a plot point during Wolfe’s trip to America. Yes, I know Maitland is a horrible person and can’t be allowed to get away with it. Still, you can’t help but admire his taste in cars…