The Break Line
Max McLean, Book #1
By James Brabazon
Author Website: jamesbrabazon.com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Caro
British intelligence operative and hardened assassin, Max McLean, battles a nightmarish enemy in this stunning debut thriller from an award winning war correspondent.
When it comes to killing terrorists British intelligence has always had one man they could rely on, Max McLean. As an assassin, he’s never missed, but Max has made one miscalculation and now he has to pay the price.
His handlers send him to Sierra Leone on a seemingly one-way mission. What he finds is a horror from beyond his nightmares. Rebel forces are loose in the jungle and someone or something is slaughtering innocent villagers. It’s his job to root out the monster behind these abominations, but he soon discovers that London may consider him the most disposable piece in this operation.
At the beginning of the story, we see a flashback in which Max McLean is remembering Raven Hill, the school where he learned all his skills and the details of his first mission. Back in the present, Max is now in South America taking care of another mission: find the target, kill the target and get out. But something doesn’t look right. His target isn’t the one described in the brief and he lets the person go. Recently, for Max the thrill of killing the target has changed, it doesn’t feel right and he is starting to question whether if this is the life he wants to continue on.
Back in London, Max is assigned his new mission. Max’s new target is in Sierra Leone and the only way to know who he is is through a blurry photograph. Max needs to be extra careful with this mission. He will have limited contact with London and, again, he has to kill his target and get out.
Once in South Africa, Max, using the undercover of a Canadian doctor, meets his guide/contact Roberts who knows the area well and speaks the local language. Roberts gives Max all that he will need for his mission. Days later they set on a road trip to find Max’s target but on the way they come across an infected village were all of its inhabitants have mysteriously died. Local authorities are trying to cover the deaths by saying it was Ebola or Cholera but Max has never seen anything alike from what the villagers died of. There is something more than a simple virus killing people in Sierra Leone and Max’s target is behind the killings of innocents and entire villages.
I really enjoyed reading The Break Line and it is really difficult not to spoil the story. My first impression was to think of Max as a Jason Bourne/secret agent type of character. Max is a great sniper and soldier who goes around the world undercover after targets. He, himself has a mysterious background. His father died while on a mission and his mother died not so long after from how heartbroken she was leaving Max without parents to later join become a soldier.
Everything seems normal up until the point where Max is assigned his new mission in South Africa. One of the first things he notices is that the mission wasn’t originally his and now he has to finish it. He doesn’t have much details about his new target except for a blurry picture of a man with a vague inscription on the back. And then he sees the bodies of the villagers and the state they were left. Things instantly start to look suspicious and the only way to figure out what is going on is to find the man from the picture, finish the mission.
I was definitely not expecting some of the things that happened throughout the book and some even caught me off guard. There are several really good and well-described scenes, even one delivered by a little girl. I can very well see the book as a live action movie. If you like action, thriller, and mystery The Break Line is the book for you.
“Of course it’s not the fall that kills you. It’s the landing.”
“Very few things in nature are black―except for coal, and, perhaps, the heart of a sniper.”