What do you get when you take the scrambling paradigm of the post-1991 technothriller, a country that was always on a lower ‘tier’ to start with, and an interesting prose style? This. Long Reach by Mike Lunnon-Wood tells the story of a Guatemalan invasion of Belize, one of the British Western Hemisphere flashpoints-a far cry from the goofball Libyan-Palestinian invasion of Ireland in Dark Rose.
It’s an example of a story I wasn’t the fondest of personally, but can still see as well done.
Long Reach follows the formula of the ‘national-scale’ cheap thriller fairly well. Viewpoint hopping, crisis, the like. That it has to be a British-scaled cheap thriller means everything has to be toned down compared to an American-scaled one, so it handles it.
This book does have a lot of rivet-counting, although it’s mostly a symptom of the overall prose. I’ll talk about that more in “The ‘Wha?'”.
Except for a bit of logistical handwaving on both sides to help smooth things along, the zombie sorceresses actually don’t have much to do here. They needed a break after Dark Rose, and they got one, for which I’m sure they’re grateful.
The plot is what it is and the characters are mostly flat, but the prose has the same issues Dark Rose has-it’s this (to me) overly lush, overly detailed, overly Hemingway-esque writing style that feels a little iffy for the boom-boom cheap thriller it is.
Thankfully, it’s a lot better paced and cohesive than Dark Rose.
The Only Score That Really Matters
This is a somewhat tricky one. For all its issues, Long Reach is not badly written, and it manages to dodge a lot of issues that could have sunk it. The enemy is more plausible, the action detailed, and for all the prose gets clunky, it could have been worse. It’s readable and conceptually interesting. After all, if American post-1991 military thrillers had to struggle with scaling down their opponents, British ones with a smaller base had to go even lower.
I just didn’t find it the best myself, because of personal quibbles with his writing style. But it’s both more plausible and better-paced than Dark Rose, and you could do a lot worse if you wanted a military cheap thriller.