Havelock (full novel)
[I received a copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.]
I started reading this novel as a serial last year, and now that the full novel is available, well, here's the full review.
The style is a little surprising, in that it mixes parts from Eliana's point of view (1st person, present tense), and parts seen through other characters (3rd person, past tense). I'm not sure what the intent was—more and more novels do that, so I'm actually never really sure—but it didn't bother me the way it did in other stories. It lent a certain immediacy to Eliana's scenes, and since they were of the action-packed kind, it fitted. I liked her humorous way of describing situations, too (that scene with the psychatrist? Totally something *I* would have one of my RPG characters do), and how she played her assets while totally embracing who she was. With an agenda of her own, she nevertheless lends her skills to MI6 in a loyal way.
There's a lot of mystery surrounding the characters in the beginning. Nothing's revealed about Eliana, but she clearly demonstrates resourcefulness and abilities to fight and get out of dire straits. More is to be learnt later, cast in the shadow of her origins, and if you read between the lines, those origins are easy to translate into another name, another myth.
Other characters are also close to tropes clearly reminiscent of typical spy narratives, yet a lot of things here work in a reversed way. The dashing spy/action type is a woman. The big boss is also a woman (and got there through years of service in which she played an active role, even getting severaly wounded, not because she was a paper-pusher). The potential mark-to-be-seduced is a guy. The villain is... villainish, yet his ruthlessness and his plan make him enjoyable. We have plants, betrayals, red tape bearing down on the good guys, and if you like spy novels, this book provides a lot of nods to the genre, while playing the tropes close to our 21st century world and problematics (terrorism rather than cold war, etc.).
The story's plot looked promising, and overall it remained enjoyable. The chase goes on for quite a few chapters, with some action scenes described in an enjoyable way. The villain and his sidekick are one step ahead, while the "heroes" are also skilled enough to try and keep up no matter what.
I was a bit less satisfied with the latest chapters, mostly because some events fseemed to unfold a bit too fast: I wouldn't have minded a few more scenes, a few more occasions to see our heroes in action. I rooted for the “good guys”, I wanted to see them win, but I also felt like the mastermind's plan would have deserved more attention—that Eliana would have met a couple more reversals, sort of, as the enemy had a definitely strong scheme, and I didn't want to see them beaten too quickly either. Still, I enjoyed the story as a whole, so it's a 3.5 to 4 stars for me.
Conclusion: A bit stereotypical, but of the kind that was fairly entertaining.