This United State - Colin Forbes

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This United State - Colin Forbes

The Prime Minister has been assassinated and Britain is in danger. Is a giant power out to absorb Britain into its own system? The trail leads Tweed a...

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Review of "This United State - Colin Forbes"

published 05/12/2005 | TheDuke
Member since : 30/11/-0001
Reviews : 187
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Pro Fast paced story
Cons Terrible characterisation, writing is poor.
very helpful
Would you read it again?

"The 51st State."

Late one evening, Paula Grey bumps into Cord Dillon outside Brown's Hotel in London. Dillon's the recently removed head of the C.I.A and Paula works for the English S.I.S. This is not a friendly meeting between two professionals, though, but a rather fortunate coincidence for Dillon as assassins are hunting him down. Thinking quickly, Paula grabs Dillon and manages to make her way to the offices of the S.I.S. where her boss, Tweed, can appraise the situation.

It becomes apparent that something sinister is happening in Britain and that America is heavily involved. But what exactly is going on? Does it have anything to do with the mysterious assassin, The Phantom, who has recently killed several important politicians across Europe including the Prime Minister? Who are the American thugs who have secretly poured into the country with diplomatic passports and immunity? How does the mysterious "Charlie" fit into this puzzle?

As Dillon is packed off to a secret bunker, Tweed instantly recognises that time is a factor in this case and he and his team set out to discover what exactly is going on and how it can be stopped, if necessary.

From the very start, "This United State" sets off at a cracking pace and doesn't let up until the very end. This works in its favour as the writing isn't outstanding, but the pace of the story keeps the pages turning until the climax. I've never read anything by Colin Forbes before, but I got the impression from this book that Tweed and his crew were characters that cropped up regularly in Forbes' stories. This didn't affect my enjoyment of the book because "This United State" is self-contained, much like a James Bond movie, although like those you probably would benefit from being familiar with the characters.

The story takes place across the western part of Europe. Starting in London, we're transported to Switzerland, Germany and France as Tweed chases down leads. Forbes claims that he visits each place featured in the story to give it believability and add atmosphere, but I really didn't see this coming across in the writing. There are a large cast of main characters and it can be troublesome at times keeping up with all of them, especially some of the minor "bad guys". Tweed himself has at least six colleagues with additional hangers on plus there are at least another dozen characters that show up throughout the book.

I thought the characterisation was quite poor. Each of the main characters is bulked out over time and most are definitely more substantial by the end of the book, although this doesn't necessarily mean they are better. They also tend towards the stereotypical; English men are polite and well dressed for the most part, Americans are brash and uncouth etc. It was also annoying reading passages where the author introduces a trait to get a character out of a problem. For example, the book might say something like: "Tweed wasn't a big drinker normally, but had the ability to be able to drink large quantities of alcohol at a moment's notice without getting drunk," just after Tweed knocks back his third large Scotch and suddenly needs his wits about him.

Where the book does shine, is the plot. The minor details might not be particularly realistic, but the overall aims of the "bad guys" are really not beyond the realms of impossibility, especially in this day and age. I think that the believability of the main plot also helps to cover the cracks in the writing.

I am very much in two minds about the book. On the one hand, the book does move along at a fair pace and coupled with the overall story, this makes it an enjoyable enough, although not outstanding, read. However, despite being someone who can easily overlook the standard of writing (and usually does), there were instances where I got annoyed as people often displayed unusual characteristics that were promptly explained by the author in an arbitrary way. I'm not sure that it really reduced my enjoyment of the book this time, but I felt the author could have done better and would perhaps be wary when trying another of Forbes' stories.

The blurb on the book claims that Forbes publishes a book every year, but reading this you'd be forgiven for thinking that Mr Forbes might take heed of the phrase "quality, not quantity". If you're a fan of tight writing and deep characterisation, then Forbes might not be for you. If you're more into something that keeps you turning pages irrespective of writing quality, then you could do worse.

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Comments on this review

  • SnowiestElf published 16/01/2006
    great review.
  • Playgirl27 published 12/01/2006
    Not really keen on his books and agree with your thoughts on it, good review, lou xx
  • marylou2u published 17/12/2005
    I avoid this type of fiction for exactly the reasons you point out. Plus sometimes I don't want to waste precious hours of my life.
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Product Information : This United State - Colin Forbes

Manufacturer's product description

The Prime Minister has been assassinated and Britain is in danger. Is a giant power out to absorb Britain into its own system? The trail leads Tweed and his team to Switzerland and into the Black Forest. The climax takes place on Romney Marsh as a hostile naval task force approaches Britain.

Product Details

Author: Colin Forbes

Title: This United State

Genre: Crime

Type: Fiction

ISBN: 0333743881; 0333744411


Listed on Ciao since: 14/09/2005