Author: Mark Sullivan
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
Source: audio CDs provided by the publisher for an honest review
Plot Summary from Goodreads:
Two years ago, Robin Monarch was maybe the best black top level CIA operative. But one day, in the middle of an operation, with his team around him in the field, Monarch walks away, leaving his old life and friends behind without a word of explanation.
Now this ex-soldier, ex-operative, and orphan with a murky past is a thief, stealing from the super-rich and has surfaced in St. Tropez. But when a complicated, high profile jewel heist goes wrong, Monarch is led into a carefully woven trap designed to force him to complete the very same mission he walked away from years ago.
It will take all of his skills (as well as those of the team he burned) and all of his cunning, if Monarch is to thwart the violent and deadly goals of the very powerful cabal who will do whatever it takes to bring the very dangerous "Green Fields" technology under their control.
This book easily caught my attention, because most other reviews I found mentioned similarities to Jason Bourne. Whoa now--big expectations there! Who doesn't think Jason Bourne is the ultimate action hero? So after all that hype, I wanted to see if Robin Monarch really matched the bad-assedness of Bourne.
Early on, I realized that that was not a fair comparison--and not because Monarch fails to hit the bar. Oh no! His action sequences are great, and I could definitely envision him kicking some arse on the big screen. (I give Sullivan a lot of credit for this--it can't be easy to write out a complicated fight scene and have it come off as both unconfusing and believable.)
It's just that Monarch is a very different sort of character than Bourne. First of all, he's less 'lone wolf' and more 'team player' (think Bourne meets A-Team?). Monarch has a group of CIA operatives that stick with him through thick and thin in this novel, and are ready to back up his every ninja-like move. (And their own action sequences will keep you on your toes, as well.) He also has a more personal, Robin-Hood-esque backstory, which slowly unfolds throughout the novel and adds a lot to the plot as a whole.
After the first part of the book, I just decided that Robin Monarch holds his own as Robin Monarch--not Bourne, or Bauer, or anyone else. No comparison necessary.
Beyond my thoughts about Monarch, I found this book to be a solid espionage thriller: you get everything that you'd expect from the genre. The action starts early and doesn't let up. There are lots of two-faced villains, mobsters, terrorists and (duh) spies. Technological innovation and weaponry abound. Plus, Monarch and his team end up all over the globe--from the foulest slum of Buenos Aires, to the high-class resorts of St. Moritz. And contrary to Bond-style spy stories, while Monarch does have a few lovely ladies on his arm along the way, there are no strong romances in the novel--which for me, is a plus. I wanted to focus on how Robin was going to evade the next baddie, not whether he would bed every female along the way.
There were some downsides. The biggest one was the unveiling of the "Green Fields" technology. This is kept secret for the majority of the novel, and is built up to be a world-ending, catastrophic sort of technological advance. As a result, I was expecting something that would truly make my mind go numb. Maybe I don't have enough appreciation for what Sullivan was trying to describe, but I just wasn't wow'ed when the reveal finally happened. Green Fields is a question mark from the very beginning, so having this be a disappointment was a bit of a letdown.
Also, I found Monarch's constant repetition of his "rules" to be a bit cheesy. The story behind the rules he lives by is explained as part of his history, but that didn't make it less odd when he answered a question with "Rule number four: no sudden moves" or something of the sort. I see how Sullivan was trying to make this a unique and cryptic part of his character, but it didn't work for me.
I can't forget to mention the audio: Jeff Gurner is a fantastic narrator for this book! His voice is intense, perfectly matching the tone of the novel. Plus, he had to handle an amazing array of accents (everything from Argentinian women to Russian men), and he jumped into all of them seamlessly. I'd say the only voice I disliked was that of CIA agent Agatha Hayes (she sounded more man than woman), but given the range he exhibited with everyone else, the voice of this side character didn't ruin the experience (it made me laugh, more than anything). Gurner makes this worth a listen for sure.
Overall, if you like the spy-thriller genre, you should add this one to your list. It keeps a fast pace, and Monarch is more than just your typical CIA operative. I was disappointed in the reveal of the much-sought-after Green Field technology, but there are enough other twists at the end that it still felt like an explosive conclusion.
Sound interesting? Then enter a chance to win a copy!
I am giving away 1 audiobook (CD format) of Rogue by Mark Sullivan. It's only been listened to once (by me!), so it's in great condition. This book made my commutes fly by, and I'd like to pass that on to another lucky reader. (And thank you to Macmillan Audio for providing it in the first place!)
Just enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below for your chance to win! Giveaway closes on October 22 at midnight and winner will be contacted by October 25.
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