Reviewer Dr. Wesley Britton: Dr. Britton is the author of four non-fiction books on espionage in literature and the media. Starting in fall 2015, his new six-book science fiction series, The Beta-Earth Chronicles, debuted via BearManor Media. For seven years, he was co-host of online radio’s Dave White Presents where he contributed interviews with a host of entertainment insiders. Before his retirement in 2016, Dr. Britton taught English at Harrisburg Area Community College. Learn more about Dr. Britton at his WEBSITE
Author: Alex Lukeman
Author: Alex Lukeman
In Alex Lukeman’s White Jade, we were introduced to “The Project,” a small, elite globe-trotting counter-terrorism team with a direct line to the White House.
It’s headed by Elizabeth Harker, whose main man in the field is former Recon Marine Nicholas Carter. He’s plagued with memories of a dead fiancée and endowed with precognitive abilities that tend to keep him alive. In that story, he was hooked up with Selena Connor who has the unlikely skills of being both a world class expert in martial arts and a professor proficient in ancient languages. In the sequel, The Lance, Carter and Connor have become lovers and are shaped into a tough killing machine capable of taking out small armies of would-be Nazi overlords.
The Seventh Pillar continues the “Project” saga with computer whiz Stephanie Willits filling in for a recuperating Harker who’s rather worse for the wear after The Lance affair. This time around, a militant Islamic prophet and an ancient cult of assassins plot to make a bloody international statement armed with a lost relic they hope will inspire new followers along with a carefully placed nuclear bomb. As Carter, Connor, and assorted secondary players move through Afghanistan, Sudan, Algeria, Timbuktu and the American west coast, they slice through these groups of relentless killers like armored tanks through wrapping paper. But the clues aren’t always easy to find—they’re buried in desert caves, on board ships at sea, or hidden in dusty libraries.
As I noted in my review of The Lance, it’s hard not to compare “The Project” novels with the Sean Dillon books of Jack Higgins. In both series, a very small team with only the Prime Minister or President to report to are able to out-maneuver and out-fight larger and supposedly better-equipped entities like MI6 and the CIA. In fact, that’s one sub-plot in The Seventh Pillar. The CIA, while capable of providing worldwide logistic support, learns tight teamwork is a secret lost in institutions riddled with turf wars and internal power plays.
But the story isn’t a
serious cautionary tale nor an attempt to provide insights inside
real intelligence work. Just like a Higgins’ thriller, The Seventh
Pillar moves in fast-paced episodes with Carter, Connor and company
constantly on the move which doesn’t leave much time for personal
growth or character development. All their opponents are merely armed
pawns who shoot first and die quickly like cut-outs on a target
range. From time to time, Carter and Connor reflect on the morality
of what they do and Connor worries about how hard she is becoming.
But the reflections are short as the pair spend much more time
changing machine-gun clips.
“The Project” books succeed at what they’re trying to do—entertain readers with page-turning adventures set in exotic locations. The bad guys are very bad indeed and the good guys are wounded warriors who fight the good fight with fortitude, quick-thinking, and dedication. The stories are like two-dimensional blood-spilling serials that would make for good movie scripts should anyone be looking for a new film franchise.