Review: The Devil’s Assassin – Paul Fraser Collard

the-devils-assassin-paul-fraser-collard5 of 5 stars

Series:
Jack Lark 3

My version: Paperback
Historical Fiction British Empire, India
Headline
2015
Bought

Bombay, 1857, Jack Lark is living precariously as an officer when his heroic but fraudulent past is discovered by the Devil – Major Ballard, the Army’s intelligence officer. Ballard is gathering a web of information to defend the British Empire, and he needs a man like Jack on his side. Not far away, in Persia, the Shah is moving against British territory and, with the Russians whispering in his ear, seeks to conquer the crucial city of Herat. The Empire’s strength is under threat and the army must fight back.

As the British march to war. Jack learns that secrets crucial to the campaign’s success are leaking into their emenies’ hands. Ballard has brought him to the battlefield to end a spy’s deceit. But who is the traitor?

The Devil’s Assassin sweeps Jack Lark through a thrilling tale of action as the British face the Persian army in the inky darkness of the desert night.

For those dreaming of new days of Empire in times of Brexit, this series would seem to be the perfect place to escape. For those of us who aren’t, but are ex-pats also.

At the start of this book, Jack Lark seem (already) much more of a rogue. His ‘eye for the ladies’ clearly doesn’t see wedding rings, or husbands standing right next to them. It was a little incongruous compared to how I remember him from the previous book. But never mind, his heart is still in the right place and his sense of duty too. Even when effectively blackmailed, by the head of the Army Intelligence service. As Jack is a past master at going ‘undercover’ to service, assuming other identities, this new assignment should be right up his street.

Well, let’s see, how did it go. A sweaty (it is set in India after all), uniformed hand reached out from the first pages of the book, grabbed me by the brain and dragged me in. I wasn’t kicking and screaming, that was being done by the participants in some of the many vividly, realistically (I’ve no idea, never having been in battle, but don’t you just love it when someone who has never been in the action the book describes, or to the period (obviously) describes it as ‘realistic’?) portrayed, intense, battle scenes. PFC’s writing is always vibrant, whether it’s describing the Indian countryside and its people’s or the battle scenes. You can, as XTC once put it (before Andy Partridge went conspiracy theory doo-lally) ‘see, hear, smell, touch, taste’ the period in his books. And look at the books! Don’t they just look great? Someone somewhere, maybe PFC himself, has really got the art of book covers and book producing. Whether the quality of the covers comes directly from the quality of what’s inside, or vice versa, never mind that! In hardback, or paperback (as mine are) they look just superb. You really feel you’ve got hold of something special here, something you don’t want to put down – and then the story won’t let you. Wonderful, one of those books you never want to end!

You can buy The Devil’s Assassin from Booksplea.se or The Book Depository

Related Reviews on Speesh Reads:

The Scarlet ThiefThe Maharaja's General

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