Codename: Money Man (File #1) by Mark Arundel

I am a fan of the spy novel. This book just didn’t hit the right notes for me. But first, I have nits to pick. The electronic version of the book is full of spelling errors, grammatical errors, punctuation errors and contextual errors (the word “passed” being used where the word “past” should have been used as one example).  I don’t care if the book is free or $100. If you want readers to pay for the next book, the first one should be correct. It is maddeningly distracting to read and then silently correct every mistake.

As for the story – there wasn’t much of a lead in. One minute the main character is couch surfing, the next he goes on a very vague job interview and is asked to kill someone with a very thin dossier provided and no real answer as to who the contractors are representing. Even at the end of the novel, it is still vague.

The main character (couch surfer) is off to Tenerife with nothing but a backpack and throughout the book he is amassing a gun collection based on his hand to hand combat skills and a series of unlikely situations. He is able to defeat teams of Russian assassins, a Chinese ninja, the local Tenerife police force and another team of British assassins/agents all while injured and trying to carry around extraneous people, including the one he was supposed to kill and is now protecting.

Every time he spoke on his satellite phone to his controller, her first question was “what happened now?” She rarely had a plan, a backup plan or details like any intelligence organization or service would have and he always ended up giving a smart ass comment and hanging up.

The characters didn’t feel well developed and there were glaring gaps where the natural questions the reader would have weren’t answered.  I guess I have pre-conceived ideas of what, for me, makes a good spy novel. Len Deighton and Ian Fleming spring to mind immediately and this book is not really in that vein. If you’re a spy thriller enthusiast, give it a shot and form your own opinion. As I noted there were many positive reviews from other readers. It just didn’t meet the bar I have set for this type of book.

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