Monday, March 26, 2018

Book Review: The Take by Christopher Reich

My Take on The Take – Lots of Action, but Without the Adrenaline

A “freelance, industrial spy.”  That’s how Reich describes his protagonist, Simon Riske, in the synopsis.  I wondered because when Riske isn’t running his sports car restoration garage, he’s using skills he honed during his criminal youth to perform ‘odd jobs’ for banks, insurance companies, and even the British Secret Service.  It’s an interesting career path – one that places him in the quagmire of long-term vendettas, shifting alliances, and political secrets on an international scale that are the plot of The Take.

The book has all the action you could want.  Assassinations from afar and face-to-face, some with quick and painless deaths, others not.  There are knife fights and gun battles.  Even a high-speed game of chicken.  But as much as those events suggest gut-wrenching tension, they don’t necessarily produce it.  Some of the incidents are implied, occurring between chapters rather than in one.  Some are in prolonged flashbacks that add greatly to character development, but that can slow the pace.  Other events are handled clinically, with the victim dispatched almost before the scene begins.  Not that I’m seeking gory details, but a chance to see the characters sweat, hear their hearts pounding would have added to the story.  It’s also a book that when you finish, sit back, and ponder, it will feel a bit contrived.  When incredible skills are needed, Riske and his friends have them.  But in the next scene, they will do something inexplicably foolish.  Even the foundation of the story, why this all happens, feels a bit artificial in retrospect. 

But what’s not lacking is suspense produced by an intricately interwoven plot.  By the finale, there are five opposing forces, each with their own objectives and motivations.  And who will end up on top and how they will prevail kept me guessing to the very end…even into the Epilogue.

Overall, The Take is loaded with action, some of which feels too clinical or contrived to get your adrenaline flowing.  But for suspense born of a complex, evolving story with multiple competing factions, it’s loaded.  You’ll just need to stay on your mental toes to keep up.

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