Thomas Caine returns in this prequel to face off against the MSS, PLA-N, and a Colombian cartel which makes the book a weirdly new type of story. This is a book written by two major Ian Fleming fans and it reads like a perfect Bond movie. Thomas Caine is like a mix of Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig’s Bond, considering that 007 did inspire the very existence of Mr. Andrew Warren’s emotionally complex character.
From the opening chapter where Caine jumps off a tall building in Macau to an epic speedboat based action scene around a submarine near Columbia and from HALO jumps leading to a swim among jellyfishes to an emotionally painful array of subplots that intersect, Depth Charge is on the top of the list of neo-noir espionage action thrillers.
The plot initially seems simple where Caine has to stage an intelligence coup for his American spymasters to acquire a Chinese PLA – Navy’s programmer who’s looking to defect. But the odds stack up when a rogue captain of a new nuclear stealth submarine, the Tumaco cartel from Columbia and a strategist from the Ministry of State Security of China are after the programmer. The programmer is a young woman who keeps revealing stages of secrets through the book like the layers of an onion. Though she’s a victim, she manages to break Caine’s fun life by sending him spinning into chaos.
The villains are brilliantly fleshed out with their sadistic and opportunistic characters portrayed beautifully in the narration. It would have been a better read if the backstory of the villains were written to give them a past that would explain their current personalities. Each of them gets their share of justice but manage to leave permanent marks on Caine, both emotionally and physically.
Thomas Caine is still a mysterious enigma but for the first time in the series, we get to read the humane parts of his life. Scenes, where the deadly assassin cooks Thai food in his home in Baltimore and spends quality time with his best friend Jack Tyler or goes on a vacation with Rebecca to Hawaii, make you understand him better as a person. But his real origins and training is still a secret.
Jack Tyler and Rebecca Freeling form the best team that Caine has ever had. But they pay the price in a game of wits between Caine and an MSS strategist. I do need more prequels that show Tyler who will bring humor to this grim series. The main letdown is how Caine and Rebecca’s relationship progresses at the end even though they are the perfect couple in Spycraft fiction.
Some of the action scenes were not realistic but were fun. Instead of making Caine a lone superhero assassin, I think it would be better for him to have some serious backup and to be part of a team. I know that he’s a singleton operative but if he’s working alone, I wish that the action scenes have their limits.
The complexities with all the parallel subplots were fabulously enthralling. The heights of complexities that I enjoyed a few years ago were the ones found in Ludlum classics or in Guy Ritchie’s early films. But now I find the complexities in Andrew Warren and Aiden L. Bailey’s works addictive.
Though this book is supposed to be about a submarine, there weren’t any scenes that had the inside of a sub or the technical details on operating a sub. I expected something different from what’s in the story due to the book’s cover image and the promo about a submarine and so I was a bit let down. Nonetheless, this book reads like a masterpiece if you read it without assumed expectations.