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    The thinking person's spy thriller

    Chris Allen’s third book in the Intrepid series, Avenger, continues the high speed, international intrigue with triads and the Russian Mafia standing centre stage. Avenger however takes on an even darker thematic hue than the previous two books as we glimpse into the exhausted soul of the hero, Alex Morgan, whose toughened character is cleverly contrasted with his ever diminishing, fragile stoicism. Exhausted and conflicted by recent events the flawed champion, Morgan, confronts us with a side we don’t often see in the hero of this genre. Allen subtly reminds us that behind the unadulterated escapism of the spy thriller lies real stories of soldiers who confront real human tragedy in the darkest of places - both without and within. Meanwhile, Avenger’s backdrop of an insatiably, greedy corporate world provides a striking link to a world many of us can relate to. Allen’s creates a villain in the Night Witch whose psychology is extreme but credible as we peer into the dark, puerile world of international slave trading. While Allen does not go in for gratuitous violence his narrative brings us close enough to the periphery of unspeakable horror that we feel like we’re right there alongside Alex Morgan. We’re there urging him on, willing him back on his feet but like his colleague, Elizabeth Reigns, doling out tough love to the exhausted soldier we too are struck by the hero’s brittle humanity. From the humid, urban landscape of Hong Kong to the oppressive, insect infested mangroves of Central America, the threat of uninvited danger is ever present in Avenger. Allen maintains this level of pervasive threat while interweaving complex relationships between both the heroes and the villains and he is not afraid to defy the inevitability of a Hollywood happy ending for all the ‘good guys’. Avenger is an exhilarating read that keeps you guessing and also provokes you to think about a real underworld that is foreign to most of us. For those who think that books like this can either make you think or entertain, but not both, the Intrepid series by Chris Allen is sure to challenge your view.

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