THE SET UP

Written by Felix Riley

Review written by Adrian Magson

Adrian Magson is the author of 20 crime and spy thrillers, including the Harry Tate series, the Lucas Rocco series and the Marc Portman series. His latest books are ‘The Locker’ (Midnight Ink - Feb 2016) the first in a new thriller series, and ‘Hard Cover’ (Severn House - March 2016), the third of his Marc Portman novels.


THE SET UP
Penguin
RRP: £6.99
Released: 28th April 2011
Pbk
Mike Byrne is a former US Secret Service Agent, currently working in the private sector looking into financial scandals. He goes to a meeting with four directors of the First Bank of America, the bank which has managed, working with Bernie Madoff, to swindle his parents out of their savings… and all four directors end up shot dead.
  
Problem is, Byrne is seen on film, performing the deed. His defence? He didn’t do it… but he did kill four other people.      
From such a knock-down start, it is soon clear that Byrne is being set up, although it also becomes clear that he has indeed shot dead four other scumbags (although, since they are members of another avaricious section of the community hell-bent on not being held liable for anything - the Russian Mafia - it at least demonstrates that he’s not all bad). And he’s done it in such as way that we’re not left in any doubt that he’s quite capable of such violence.
 
However, showing that even the police can jump to false conclusions based on what they read, the very fact that Byrne has been trained to kill and is an expert with weapons only serves to prove to some that he must be responsible for what has gone down. Ergo, guilty.
  
But Byrne is fortunate to have someone who believes that there might – just might – be something in what he says when he claims to be innocent. And that someone is a Latina detective, Jenni Martinez. But even she has cause to doubt that he’s as clean as he says, especially when he calmly admits that he has killed four members of the Russian mafia who were holding him hostage. But, deprived of her badge and gun because of her involvement with him, she has to go along with his plans to clear his name and find out just why he was being held hostage in the first place.
 
The real villain of the piece, as is evident from the very beginning of this excellent book, is Jeremiah Rankin, the lying, swindling CEO of First Bank of America. He rivals Bernie Madoff in the ruthless stakes, and is quite unconcerned about any financial or social fall-out which may result from his activities. Indeed, he simply refuses to think about it. As such, it is a pleasure to read this book in the hopes that he will get his just deserts… but ever so slowly. Surprisingly for a story which, on the surface, anyway, is about the financial collapse of a bank and the crimes committed by it, this is a meaty conspiracy thriller to rival any I’ve read in a long time. The cover blurb says ‘More thrills than The Firm and The Bourne Identity put together’, and after my initial lifting of an eyebrow, I heartily agree. In fact, if Matt Damon is doing nothing… 

Mike Byrne is a tough, stop-at-nothing character, the tension is electric and I thoroughly enjoyed this book because of the pace and the storyline. But I also like it because I just checked out Felix Riley’s website and a film he favours is 3 Days of the Condor, one of my all-time favourites. And for that he must get full marks.
 
I look forward to the next Mike Byrne thriller, due in spring 2012.
 

 

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