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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60% positive

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Review of "This United State - Colin Forbes"

published 04/03/2007 | Martinscholes
Member since : 06/12/2003
Reviews : 369
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Pro Good use of locations, good descriptions
Cons Stretches credibility beyond breaking point
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"This United State, Colin Forbes (EDIT)"

The premise behind This United States by Colin Forbes is an interesting one. Not unique, it's been used before, but certainly interesting.

The USA has decided to take over the UK by a mixture of guile, treachery, bribery and armed aggression. And only Tweed and his team of British Secret Service agents can save the day!

The novel opens with a bang, as a team of CIA assassins attempt to murder the former head of the CIA in Mayfair. Fortunately secret agent Paula Gray stumbles over him, save his life and so Cord Dillon is spirited away to a secret underground bunker on the Kent coast.

The novel is over 530 pages in length and is packed with exciting incidents such as the above and in Switzerland, the Black forest and (again) in Kent. It has all the hallmarks of being a great novel. But in my opinion, sadly, the book is flawed. And fatally so.

Tweed and his team find themselves facing a massive team of villainous CIA operatives who all seem to have become lost on the way from Central Casting to take part in a very, very low budget "B" gangster movie, circa 1950-something.

At times the book is well-written, but at other times it seems to descend into what I can only describe as an 'hysterical parody.'

An example of what I mean is the 'Umbrella Men.' Now, people have been killed with assassins armed with guns, swords and poison delivery systems disguised as umbrellas.

But never has any novel (that I am aware of) used anything so lame-brained and as risible as 'the Umbrella Men!'

Forbes has to go one better than the reality of umbrella-wielding killers. He has a team of four men, all armed with umbrellas, who prance about in the streets as if they are auditioning for a new version of Singing in the Rain, combined with the film The Assassins! And then they shoot people, whilst hiding behind their umbrellas... This does strain the credibility somewhat.

But worse is to follow! The credibility of this story is utterly destroyed some time later in the novel.

The novel seemed to open late. By opened late, I mean that the murder of the British Prime Minister occurred just prior to the point at which the novel starts, and was treated as quite throwaway. "The Prime Minister was shot last week." "Oh, damn!" (Well, not quite that bad, but almost as bad!)

Colin Forbes states in the introduction: "It is essential for me to see for myself where the book will take place. Only in this way can I conjure up the unique atmosphere of the chosen locales." It is a pity that he did not spend the same attention to detail on the plot of this novel.

The denouement of the novel really does stretch credibility until it absolutely shatters. There is a pitched naval battle between a US Naval taskforce… and a team of plucky London cabbies. Yes, London cabbies!

Which, of course, the cheery Cockney cabbies won, totally obliterating a team of crack US Navy SEALS. Now, yes, I will admit that a retired Royal Marine SBS officer I know has declared that the US Navy SEALS are in all probability the worst-trained and most poorly disciplined 'special forces' team that he ever had the misfortune of working with on combined ops, but even so, being beaten by a scratch team of… London cabbies? Oh, please! Do us a favour, Mr Forbes! You must be 'avin' a laugh! As they say...

Mr Forbes seems to forget that under such a threat of invasion a task force (by any Navy) would be dealt with and repulsed (hopefully!) by the Royal Marines, including members of the (genuinely crack) Special Boat Squadron and the Royal Marines Artillery.

There are other faults in the book, Mr Forbes uses the word "Friggin'" in place of another "F" word. In my opinion this made the speech of the villains somewhat clumsy. Far better to leave out the word, like so ****. I think most readers would have got the idea of the word that was being replaced without resorting to a "minced" swearword.

The main villain, which I believed was the key to the whole novel in Forbes' mind, was telegraphed from really very early on in the book. But worse, the moment when the villain was exposed was exceptionally badly executed, I thought, doing nothing to assist the novel.

This is not one of his best books, it has to be said. He has published a book a year for the past 25 years. The book jacket describes it as: "…his most prophetic and suspenseful novel." I am sorry to have to say that the adjective the writer of that blurb was looking for was 'pathetic' rather than prophetic…

(For a better use of the same theme read Read Rule Britannia, by Daphne Du Maurier.)

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Comments on this review

  • Jake_Speed published 12/07/2011
    interesting review
  • vickymason9000 published 07/11/2010
    A great review - I shall give this one a miss then! x
  • thegoodstuff published 06/11/2010
    Top review!
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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