Warehouse of Souls
In Warehouse of Souls by Roger Croft, Michael Vaux is called out of semi-retirement to find a mole hidden deep in Beirut’s ever-shifting, multi-factioned, treacherous, back-stabbing spy and political sandstorm. His problem is how to achieve this. He works for a government outfit called B3 that does not have the support of MI6, at least not willingly. His local contacts get killed sooner rather than later. Even his second-in-command has to be rescued when his prime contact is compromised. There are plot twists and turns, and the author develops a sense of hopelessness as every avenue ends in death and deception. The question is, who to trust, and who even to like? Vaux’s motivations are hard to pin down and quantify. There seems to be some old-boy history with some colleagues, some ego to get a hard job done, and some bureaucratic mechanisms that drive him. Evidently it comes down to Queen and Country, and even that is suspect. Vaux seems to have a moral clock of some sort that ticks randomly, and it takes a few chapters to determine how he will act; his actions are usually surprising even then. This is one of the strong points of the book–Vaux and most of the characters in the book are not inherently predictable. They act like real, multi-faceted people. The book takes some effort to read, especially striving to understand the main characters.
Like any good mystery, the author has all the answers to the identity of the mole in plain sight and hidden at the same time. The author does not bore with meaningless passages of time–the writing is almost skeletal, making each scene important, not only for what is on the surface but for what must be imagined and deduced from the short dialogues. Most of the scenes are dialog of one sort or another, so the reader must learn to listen. Everyone has an agenda, and only occasionally are the separate agendas compatible. This book, then, is a great antidote for when mind-candy books seem too sickly sweet or plot lines too woefully weak.
Cassio Books International