Author: James Grenton
Series: Standalone Novel
Review Copy: Free eBook
Overall Rating: 2 out of 5
A lone man lies disfigured and dying by the roadside in the arid plains of northern Somalia…
Thousands of refugees are found massacred in a camp next to the Ethiopian border…
A convoy vanishes on its way to distribute food aid…
Rumours circulate that Somali militia are responsible, but Interpol agent Jim Galespi suspects the truth is even more sinister. Sent undercover to Somalia to investigate, he soon finds himself pitted against the two madmen who have taken control of Universal Action, the world’s largest NGO.
Galespi’s quest to uncover the truth about Universal Action and the unfolding tragedy in Somalia throws him into the centre of an international conspiracy that threatens to engulf Africa and the Western world.
From the deserts of Somaliland, the slums of Nairobi and the ruins of Mogadishu to the plush hotels of Cape Town all the way to the UK government in London, the race is on to stop disaster from striking again.
Intricate and fast paced, The Somali Doctrine is an intelligent action adventure in the vein of Michael Crichton.
The Somali Doctrine is a thriller and the debut novel of James Grenton. Grenton has a background in international development, so it seems logical he’d choose to write about a non-governmental organisation that is supposed to be helping a poor nation develop. So, he chose Somalia, which was probably the worst country to be in at the time. In this case, it’s the NGO that’s gone bad, and Interpol is brought in to try to clean things up.
So, we have Jim Galespi, Interpol agent. He’s a good guy with a past that haunts him. He infiltrates Universal Action to try to catch the bad guys, the ones who run the organisation. He’s an honest person with good knowledge in armed and unarmed combat, a good disposition, and the quintessential hero type. Let’s say he’s this book’s version of James Bond. Then we have Harry, the man he’s after. Harry has no morals. He doesn’t even have one shred of decency. He is one hundred percent evil monster. He is the typical bad guy, like in James Bond. Then we have Maxine, the beautiful woman employed by the NGO who has taken a liking for Jim, though we’re never quite sure which side she’s on. She’s the typical Bond girl. Oh my. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was getting a James Bond type adventure here. No, they aren’t the same, just seemed a bit stereotypical. Jim was likeable, Harry was easy to despise, and Maxine tried to be the character we could sympathise with. Unfortunately, I felt the characters were quite flat. Jim was okay, but Harry was so stereotypically the evil bad guy that I really didn’t care. Maxine was so hard to figure out, I didn’t find her developed well enough or consistently enough. All the other characters in the book were inconsequential in the end, but they did support a bit. However, these were the three important members.
The setting is all over the place. Lots of international travel between Somalia, Kenya, South Africa, England, and so on. Everyone was traveling, actually. The main location was Somalia (or more specifically Somaliland) and Grenton did a decent job of making it seem dry, dusty, and desolate. I felt the atmosphere throughout the book, and it was done pretty well.
The story is another matter. There was a lot of action, of course. Jim got captured again and again and again. He got away every time. It seemed like that’s what most of the story was. There was a strong hate between Jim and Harry, though neither would tell why until the end (it’s actually quite easy to figure out, as the hints are obvious). The dynamics between Jim and Maxine hint at a possible romance, but it was difficult to figure out if anything would actually happen. The part with the French journalist wasn’t my favourite part, mainly because the character himself was a complete asshole, I felt. He seemed to have no clue about how to behave and completely oblivious to the consequences of his actions. Realistic this was not. However, it was full of action, which some people will be happy with.
What do I think overall? On the positive side, the action was good. The setting was done well. On the other hand, the characters were stereotypical and flat. I felt nothing for them. The story was predictable and filled with cliffhangers that were explained away at the end of the chapters. That completely killed the suspense. For the action alone, that may satisfy action fans. But for me, this wasn’t my cup of tea. I like more depth in a story. This book didn’t leave many mysteries, they were just too obvious.
I would give this two out of five stars. Recommended for fans of action thrillers, but not for others.