Thursday, 13 October 2011

Book Review: The Defector by Mark Chisnell

The DefectorWhat should come first, the individual or the greater good of society? In the past Martin has looked out for number 1. However after the city trader loses his girlfriend and his job and causes a major accident he disappears off travelling. After getting caught up in a bar fight he is saved by tough guy Janac. Friend quickly turns to foe though, Janac gets his kicks through testing people to their limit. His particular interest is the Prisoner's Dilemma. Martin soon finds himself caught up in Janac's deadly game, threatening him and those around him. He flees for his life, and it's not just Janac on his trail.

The Prisoner's Dilemma revolves around whether two prisoners working separately can both co-operate and keep quiet to minimise the sentence they receive, whether both will defect, giving the other up, and end up with a longer sentence, or whether one will co-operate and one defect, resulting in one going free and the other serving a longer sentence again. The book explains it far better than this, but the dilemma revolves around whether you can trust the other person to act for the good of both, or whether self-interest will win every time. This is the basis of the psychological games Janac plays with his unfortunate pawn, Martin and it makes for some very interesting and though-provoking material.

Martin isn't an entirely sympathetic character, and some of the choices he makes early on in the book aren't the smartest, but I was certainly rooting for him to escape Janac's clutches. I also felt sorry for him as the collateral damage grew and threatened people who had no part in what was going on. Janac on the other hand is out and out evil, but in a smart Hannibal Lecter kind of way (although physically tougher) His background is quite mysterious and I'd be interested to find out more about his past, which I hope might be part of the next book The Wrecking Crew.

The action moves from Thailand to Australia then to sea. Moving the action to a yacht forces the characters into close quarters and creates a new dynamic that I thought made for a good spin on this sort of plot. However while the author obviously knows his stuff my sailing knowledge is pretty limited, and while most of the narrative was within my grasp there were some description of nautical things and technical names thrown in that didn't mean a lot to me. It wasn't often enough to greatly affect my appreciation of what was happening but I did feel like I might be missing out on something.

I really enjoyed this book, it's a tense action thriller with a great psychological edge & the teaser for the next book appearing at the end has piqued my interest.

Format: Kindle, review copy
My Rating: 4*

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