Review: Hellfire by Chris Ryan

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Hellfire by Chris Ryan, (Danny Black, #3), Trade paperback from library, August 2015, 391p.

I live tweeted this book: #iloveoilrigs

4 stars.

Hellfire slowly built up the tension and suspense until I was frantic in the final 70 pages. I always forget how epic the conclusions of Chris Ryan’s works are, and Hellfire certainly delivered. At times it felt like I was racing against the clock alongside the protagonist of this series, Danny Black. I’m a sucker for anything with nautical themes, and so seeing a picture of an oil rig on the front of a favourite authors’ book – I jumping up and down to get reading!

This is the third novel in the Danny Black series, and I have given all the books in the series a four star rating. I feel like each one adds a little more to the background characters that feature in the series. The most infuriating character ever written (ever!) features in this series, Mr. Hugo Buckingham. The desire to punch Buckingham in the face is all encompassing, and I certainly was rooting for Danny to just lose his cool and let fly.

Danny Black as a character is fairly stock standard, he is the guy you want to come to your rescue. I found it interesting in this novel when he was thinking about his morals, convictions and motivations. Black spends much of the book looking down on his team mate Tony because he seems to be associated with some shady business and is a general all around douchebag. Tony is connected with the seedy underbelly of London, and I sure didn’t like the guy. However, all of the torture that Black seems to constantly engage in doesn’t even get a second thought from the protagonist. Now, I understand that this is an action novel, where it’s all about the thrills – plus – in a time constricted, high stakes situation maybe torture could be used (that is a could, not a should), but the fact that Danny Black seems to be completely at peace with what he has to do to get the job done seems a bit strange to me. Maybe I’m just becoming too much of a bleeding heart in my old age.

In Hellfire we are introduced to a new character, Caitlin. She is Australian and awesome. As an Australian woman myself, I am partial to kick ass Aussie women. I would have liked a little bit of information on her, but she certainly held up her end and was portrayed as just as capable as the men in the unit. At the beginning of the novel there certainly was an element of the unit being unsure if she would be a liability – but Ryan wrote the character with integrity and a no-nonsense attitude. By the end of the novel she was just another member of the unit, and the only concession made to her was people not referring to the unit as ‘guys’ or ‘men’. I hope that she shows up in future novels, because I think her story could be very interesting!

Those who are familiar with Ryan’s style will be comfortable with this effort – it is condense, terse and fast paced. There are few adjectives and when they are included they are usually to describe machines or pieces of kit. This is exactly the type of prose I enjoy – to the point and no-nonsense. It can take a while to settle back into this style after reading wordy literature for school, but I always appreciate the break.

If you are looking for an action-packed thrill ride (with added oil rig!), you can do no wrong in picking up a Chris Ryan novel, although I would advise starting with the first in the Danny Black series – Masters of War.

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