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Rubicon by Ian Patrick. Book Review

September 20, 2017

Rubicon

Sam Batford, an undercover officer with the Met, is close to locking horns with crime-lord Vincenzo Guardiano, because Batford has his sights set on Guardiano’s drug supply. But he also has to contend with DCI Klara Winter, who would like to do just the same, but for all the right, legal reasons. Thus begins the battle of wills, where only those with razor-sharp wit and nerves of steel are likely to survive.

Raymond Chandler is alive and well and writing under the name of Ian Patrick. Rubicon may essentially be a thriller based around organised crime, but the reason why you are able to enjoy its fast-paced story is the quality of the author’s writing. Patrick has a Chandleresque gift for glib descriptions which slip down like a vintage malt whisky. Take for example the point when the main protagonist of the story Batford meets up again with the woman who acts as the go-between for the crime lord and his foot soldiers. The extract below neatly describes the woman’s place in the organisational pecking order and Batford’s character, which has your opinion of his morality shifting every step of the way through a story as complex as Batford.

 

“Stoner appears by my door. I’m high enough to see down her low-cut blouse but human enough to notice the bruise around her right eye. Her top lip looks swollen but we’re not talking Harley Street fillers. Her plump lip was hand delivered.”

 

In this way, vital minutiae, which create depth to the story, make an impact without slowing down the narrative.

It would be so easy to have a sneaking admiration for Batford, but your opinion is continually altered at every twist of the plot (of which there are many). The story shifts between the third person of Klara Winter and Batford’s first person account in which not only the action, but his background unfolds. It is a background which presents an abusive childhood, begging sympathy, but in the next few pages Batford takes your breath away with his relentless ruthlessness. It is this type of uncertainty about not only Batford, but where the story is going, which really cranks up and maintains the tension.

Klara Winter is a character who is always at arm’s length in terms of considering her as a person, but one who is trying to make her way in a hostile work environment where there is always a feeding frenzy with sharks possessing far more muscle than her. Everyone is being used and it is all a fine balance as to who will make it out in one piece and with what amount of dignity or reward. You see Winter twist and turn while trying to outwit both Batford and her superiors, as well as trying to come out on top, through the account of her actions and her confidential diary. This keeps the focus all the time on Batford.

The story of Rubicon might appear far-fetched but that’s something you’re quite happy to push to one side because of the quality of writing, and Sam Batford’s intriguing character, which makes for a read you won’t want to put down.

Rubicon was a bought copy.

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