Author: James Raven
Publisher: Robert Hale Limited
In James Raven's recent novel, Random Targets a serial sniper is on the loose in England who launches a precise planned campaign of terror, launching random senseless attacks on motorists with a high powered rifle during rush hours on different motorways. The results are catastrophic resulting in multiple deaths. injuries and considerable havoc.
And when you think about it, this is quite a nightmare! With little risk, terrorists could cause death and destruction on a vast scale. It is to be noted that there are 2000 miles of motorways in the UK and these are essential in driving the economy by transporting people and freight between towns and cities. These would be perfect targets for religious fanatics and others.
Detective Chief Inspector Jeff Temple and his team of investigators along with the Anti-Terrorism Command unit co-ordinate their efforts in trying to apprehend the monstrous executioner. As the investigation shakes out, Temple unearths to his dismay that one of the victims of this horrendous crime is his lady-friend and colleague Angel Metcalfe who is badly injured and is fighting for her life.
The team of investigators uncover from a shell casing they discover near the scene of the crime that a .338 Lapua Magnum rifle specifically developed for top notch sniper rifles to be the killer's weapon. This is a rifle that can kill at a range of hundreds of yards and which was a favorite with the military used by British troops in Afghanistan. Shoe prints are also detected near the scene of the crime along with a message painted with spray paint across concrete slabs stating “that this is just the start and many more will die.”
Tension heightens as the investigation shifts to looking for someone proficient in the use of a high-caliber rifle. To complicate matters several issues remain open to question. Are we in the presence of a terrorist or a lone psychopath? Is it someone who was doing it for fun or to fulfill some warped fantasy? Perhaps, it is a “nut case” that watched too many violent video games? Then there is always the possibility of someone with a mental illness who saw it as a chance to draw attention to himself?
After stumbling upon a series of clues, there are some breaks in the probe such as when a woman tells a reporter that she saw a man acting suspiciously close to where the shootings happened. He was apparently standing on a bridge looking down on the traffic when she drove past. A man was also identified as carrying a backpack on his shoulder that could have easily contained the sniper's rifle. Nonetheless, the challenge is daunting as initially there still didn't seem to be any motive for the killing spree, no really promising leads and no clues as to the killer's identity except for a fuzzy image discovered on a security footage near the crime scene. This is all about to change when it is revealed that a rifle similar to the one used by the sniper was stolen by a soldier that apparently went AWOL from his base. Could this be the break the investigators were looking for in identifying the murderer? And to obscure matters, Raven throws into the plot another terrorist undertaking which may or may not be tied in with the motorway killings.
Raven, who has a perfect sense of timing, delivers a sinister and chilling yarn of evil as he steers his readers through the crime investigation with an unfaltering hand and a fluid narrative style ending with an astonishing bombshell. What is more he has crafted an interesting cast of characters and achieves a near flawless rhythm as the narrative takes shape. There is suspense, fear, and the possibility that this could occur in your own backyard no matter where you live such as what happened in the USA as the Beltway Sniper Attacks in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C in October of 2002 and another in Kansas City.