Most people know or have at least heard of Andy McNab and Chris Ryan. They gained fame after the story of Bravo Two Zero a disastrous SAS mission that went horribly wrong and ended in the capture of most of the team. Since that time, both men have apparently left the Regiment and started writing novels for a living (among other things). They both have quite a different style of writing Andy McNab adopts a first person perspective, narrating a story through the eyes of his imaginary character Nick Stone, while Chris Ryan adopts a third person perspective, telling the story of a variety of characters in his different novels.
I have to say, generally I prefer the work of Chris Ryan as I don’t find the first person perspective as immersive. It can be said that both men know what they’re talking about. They say the best way to write is to write what you know. Soldiering is what they know and therefore this is what they write about well.
The Watchman is a rather clever story that starts with “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland. A few years ago, MI5 secretly recruited and trained a special forces operative to go undercover in the IRA. Later, he apparently turned and went dark. Now, years later, the original people in charge of the operation are being killed off one-by-one. They suspect the Watchman is to blame. A member of the SAS is recruited to track and kill the Watchman before he kills anyone else. But are things as clear cut as they seem?
Although entirely fictional, the story is clearly backed up by historical facts and realities which make it both believable and plausible. Chris Ryan does an excellent job of immersing the reader and offering some attachment to the main characters. There is certain some intrigue around what is going to transpire as the story progresses.
The story itself is quite brutal from the start. Make no mistake, people are going to die. If this book was a film it would be an 18. People are tortured and brutally killed with 6 inch nails driven through their temples, tongues cut out, ears lopped off. Well, you get the picture, although perhaps you should be glad that you don’t.
Chris Ryan is a good author, in my humble opinion. That is not to say he’s the best author and this certainly isn’t the best story ever told, but it is well written. As can imagine from the synopsis, there is a twist in the tale, but it is quite obvious from the outset. That’s not the point though. The story itself is very well written and the action and intrigue certainly kept me turning pages.