Rogue by James Swallow: Tingling with menace and suspense - book review -

Modern espionage has become a delicate balancing act in which one wrong move could end in turmoil or war… and no one knows that better than ex-MI6 agent Marc Dane.

By Pam Norfolk
Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 12:30 pm
Rogue by James Swallow
Rogue by James Swallow

Dane has fought off threats from ruthless enemies in all corners of the world, but has he finally met his match on his most perilous mission yet? The stakes are high as the price of failure could be the deaths of millions of innocent people.

Five books in and James Swallow’s fabulously fast and furious Marc Dane spy thriller series shows no sign of losing its breathtaking momentum. A BAFTA-nominated scriptwriter as well as a bestselling author, Swallow is an expert at pumping up the action and this gripping new chapter sees our lean, mean operative on a globetrotting journey into some of the darkest, most dangerous corners of the planet, stirring up some toxic secrets along the way.

From the blood-soaked opener in the dark underbelly of Oslo to the sunny olive groves of Portugal and onwards through Cyprus, France and Mozambique, Rogue is a thrill-a-minute race against time to find a rogue agent, and comes full of bone-crunching drama, brilliant plotting, and superbly drawn characters.

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After his career working for Queen and country with MI6 was cut short, Marc Dane has been employed as an operative in the Special Conditions Division of the pan-global Rubicon group, a privately owned outfit fighting terror threats and organised cruelty, and doing what they can to hold back ‘some of the darkness’ that lies forever on the horizon.

Dane has had a catalogue of ‘near-hits and lucky breaks,’ but he has dedicated his life to protecting others and remains loyal to his inscrutable millionaire boss, Ekko Solomon, who founded the company from humble beginnings in strife-torn East Africa.

But his line of work also means he has collected enemies, and a lot of them, but so far he has got the better of them, and that is thanks in no small part to his highly-trained sniper sidekick Lucy Keyes, ex-US Army and, as a ‘sardonic New Yorker,’ the perfect partner for the ‘impulsive Londoner.’

Lucy is only recently ‘back from the dead’ after being poisoned by a biological virus, and now they are under orders to track down a figure from Dane’s past… a renegade agent who is part of a deadly conspiracy to destroy Rubicon and with it, the world order.

With the clock ticking, Dane and Lucy Keyes must unpick the monstrous plot which stretches from the marinas of Monaco to the mountains of Mozambique, and time is fast running out.

Swallow is a grand master of spy fiction and his smart, classy, high-octane Marc Dane series, which has included Nomad, Exile, Ghost and Shadow, is now top of the must-read list for discerning espionage and action fans.

With a face from Dane’s personal and professional past adding a troubling note to the new mission for the ex-MI6 man and his tough, sharp-shooting partner, Lucy Keyes, the dynamic duo embark on a complex trail that weaves through mystery, intrigue and the kind of danger that might make even the intrepid James Bond feel a shiver of fear.

These are adventures tingling with menace and suspense, and what makes them so addictive and exhilarating is not just the visually stunning action sequences but the sheer exuberance and energy of Swallow’s storytelling and a vibrant cast of characters from all sides of the criminal spectrum.

And fear not if you have so far missed the Marc Dane experience… climbing aboard for the thrill ride is a joy when each book can be read as a standalone. But, like all top-class series, a return journey to the beginning means you pick up all the threads and miss none of the fun.

(Zaffre, paperback, £8.99)