THE OBELISK

Written by Howard Gordon

Review written by LJ Hurst

Initially, L. J. Hurst worked in the backrooms of the media industry. He now divides his time between work for an international scientific publisher and a rather more British independent bookseller. In years past he was a regular attendee at the Shots on the Page Festivals from whence Shots Mag sprung


THE OBELISK
Simon and Schuster
RRP: £12.99
Released: 20th January 2011
Trade Paperback

Oil keeps flowing; oil needs to keep flowing as the demand for it never drops. Unfortunately for the west it tends to flow in places where the locals are increasingly resistant to its ultimate destination: us. Other people not so local also see the opportunity to cause a bit of mayhem and give us a bit of grief.

 

So if you were just planning to construct the world’s newest and largest oil platform you would feel the slightest twinge knowing that it was being placed off the coast of Mahan, a fictional super-Brunei. If you were the chief engineer of the platform, nicknamed “The Obelisk” (perhaps the word carries some sort of overtone to an American; it seems rather unpretentious and without any implication to me), you would want to know that you had security, you would also want to know that the platform was constructed to resist the typhoons which sweep the South China Sea. Failing that, you would want to know that an engineer was on his way to put the platform right weather-wise. What you would not want is for that engineer to arrive and announce that he was actually leading a party of jihadi terrorists. Nor hear that the weather was worsening.

 

The oil platform called “The Obelisk” is just the background to Howard Gordon’s thriller. Before his hero, Gideon Davis, ever reaches the platform he will have been chased up and down greasy tropical rivers to highlands where the native peoples still impale their enemies on their spears. Gideon is a cross between Mycroft Holmes and Raoul Wallenberg, a negotiator who renounced guns unlike his hawkish brother who may also have gone over to the other side; Gideon also turns out to be super-fit, a skilled hand at bomb disposal, and a friend of presidents and senators. None of which is going to stop him repeatedly facing death, though it may help him overcome it. It does make The Obelisk a fast romp, though.

 

Double and triple crosses abound, along with massacres, helicopter rescues, failed rescues, doubt, and suspicion. Howard Gordon was the executive producer of TV’s 24, and this is his first novel. If you want action and you like it exotic then this is a book for you. If nothing else you will like the plotting, even in something as telegenic as the way the heroine has to strip to her underwear and stay that way for half the story. I just hope she has remembered to put on her lip gloss.

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