Sangin, Afghanistan June 2008
Tony Blunt always screws up. It seems he can’t help himself and everyone in his squadron is aware of it. So would you really want him as your backup? Unfortunately, he is all they have. Surprisingly he doesn’t screw up quite as much as everyone expects and helps, albeit at the very last minute, to save the last few survivors on his team.
Will he have the balls to tell his team that he disappeared into a civilian house to hide, or will he conjure up a fabricated story so he doesn’t look like a coward?
Tony Blunt’s tour in Afghanistan has clearly affected him, but not in the same way it has other soldiers. While some come back with deep-rooted issues that affect their daily lives, Tony has returned with a different set of beliefs; beliefs that could cause serious damage to communities in the UK.
It seems that he has developed some extremist beliefs and is ready to become a martyr for what he believes. Even though we don’t know what exactly will take place, tension is building and your mind can’t help but run away with possibilities.
“… I have made a proposal to avenge your incarceration. This will make the Birmingham attack look like a walk in the park.”
“What I have proposed will dwarf Birmingham, and rob everyone in this land of their sense of security. I hope this will signify the beginning of our war.”
On a brief side note, this is the second in the Atrocities series of books, the first of which, The Watch List, starts with a devastating attack on an open-air community festival that subsequently sees a task force come together to find the terrorists and thwart further attacks. This same team then comes together again just weeks later to try and top further attacks on the UK by this extremist group; a radical group that has recruited Tony Blunt to play a central part in their next attack.
There is just one major problem: it seems Tony has disappeared.
Tony had always been a loner. Even as a paratrooper, the rest of the team avoided him so when Zafir Abdulaziz welcomed him into the fold of his group while he served a prison sentence Tony couldn’t resist, and who could really blame him? During this time inside he went from feeling alone and despondent to welcomed and part of a family. For someone that had never had anyone, this must-have felt like winning the lottery. Initially, they discussed life in general and religion, and it is here that Tony decided to convert to a life of Islam before they move on to more extremist thoughts about how to improve their repressed lifestyle when they left.
Unfortunately, because of the part he played in not one but two previous terror attacks, Zafir will not be a free man for a considerable time and therefore needs to rely on people like Tony to take action against those that oppress them. Of course, that doesn’t mean that Zafir cannot reach the outside world, it just means that in the eyes of the law, he has kept his hands clean, unless the team sent in to uncover the truth can find evidence to support his involvement.
That team is made up of both ex-special forces lads and a small group of highly qualified geeks and multi-agency specialists determined to stop the terror ripping through the UK. But are the team all on the same page?
Alex and the team from the first book are back but this time, because they were somewhat depleted in the last two attacks they need help. On this occasion, it comes in the form of Lucy’s unknown contact, Agent Charlie Thew, who heads up an intelligence team at Security Services Headquarters.
Will both teams be able to come together to get the result they want? Will they be able to stop any further attacks before more innocent lives are taken?
My Thoughts on ‘Where is Tony Blunt?’
Firstly, while you could read this novel as a standalone, it definitely helps to have read the first book in the series as it gives you a background to the team that is missing here. There are also numerous references to what has come before and therefore I personally feel that reading The Watch List added to the depth of this second novel by Joseph Mitcham.
I found myself looking back over the synopsis on the previous book before picking this one up to refresh my mind of what had come before. This helped because the first few chapters recap what had happened.
However, could you read it as a standalone? Of course!
We were introduced to Tony Blunt, in the first book, only briefly but it highlighted he had radicalised his beliefs and no longer stood on the same side as Alex, John, and the team. While Alex’s team was trying to bring justice and apprehend those on the UK watch list, Blunt was trying to thwart their plans. However, he was not the main focus on that particular storyline, and therefore if you have not read the first book, it is not a deal-breaker. (Although on I side note, I really enjoyed this first book in the series and would highly recommend it).
For me, and I know how you feel about a book is always a personal thing, I struggled with parts of the narrative. It was clear that Tony Blunt was the individual in the team’s sights but I couldn’t actually work out what he was planning until the very end, which while I kept reading because I really need to know what was happening, my interest did wane slightly. There were also a few chapters that described his actions in the build-up to his one-man terrorist attack that, in all honesty, left me a bit bewildered. I struggled to picture in my head what he was trying to achieve and therefore I had to re-read them a couple of times before I could push forward with the narrative. I am sure those reading it with a more technical mind than mine would fly through this section but others may find it a bit off-putting.
What I cannot fault is Joseph Mitcham’s attention to detail. As a former member of the British Military and Elite Forces, he has captured the camaraderie of a squadron perfectly and demonstrates that he is obviously very knowledgeable in the subjects he now writes about. While this is a work of fiction, I have no doubt that he is probably drawing on his own experiences in his writing and therefore it is probably fair to assume that he has been involved in some very similar situations.
Have you read any of the Atrocities Series? Perhaps you have read other novels with a similar subject matter that you think others will enjoy.
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