Title: Deliver Us From Evil
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Hardback: 406 pages
Publication Date: 02/07/2010
As a hardened reader of numerous crime and thrillers I have become inured to the savage violence that is often found in the genre. But every once in a while something comes along that makes even me squirm and feel a little queasy. Such as in Deliver Us From Evil, a book with no shortage of torture or brutality, where one moment stood out for its potential for horrific pain and cruelty. It occurs when the villain of the piece is ‘interrogating’ a bound victim and produces from his tool-box a contraption which he gleefully and sadistically proclaims will allow him to shave the man’s skin off in less than an hour [promptly putting me off my lunch].
The torturer is Evan Waller, a man whose depravity knows no bounds. Trafficker in sex slaves, dealer in nuclear weaponry, with a penchant for casual violence and a frankly psychopathic mien, he was formerly known as Fedir Kuchin – a war criminal responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children in his native Ukraine in the years before the fall of the USSR. Frankly this man is in the Champions League of evil [which, non-football fans, means he is very, very bad!]. So it is no real surprise that he finds himself on the most wanted list of a number of organisations.
Unfortunately, two of them have decided to target him at the same time, which you know is only going to lead to problems. One of them, which involves Regina ‘Reggie’ Campion, is a cavalier and haphazard group of justice-minded vigilantes who hunt down and assassinate war criminals, Nazis and mass murderers. The other operation is spearheaded by an operative, Shaw, who previously appeared in 2008’s The Whole Truth, and who works for a secretive agency called … well, ‘The Agency’ [ judging by its originality, the meeting to decide the name must have occurred just before their lunch break!].
Despite his fighting ability and six-foot-six frame [which brings to mind Jack Reacher], Shaw was not a character that I found that interesting. Kuchin/Waller and Reggie, with her troubled background and [literally] murderous ‘job’, are far more intriguing in my opinion and I certainly hope that future books in the series will feature her and explore her past. However, as Baldacci tends to move between his multiple series and standalone novels, there is no telling when, or if, he will return to these characters [indeed, his forthcoming book, released at the end of 2010 in the UK, is a return to The Camel Club books].
Deliver Us From Evil does have a very James Bond-esque feel to it in its brashly outrageous and over-the-top plot and diabolically evil villain, but that is certainly no bad thing. True to real-life it certainly isn’t but this is the perfect book to curl up with on a lazy day when all you really feel like is an unadulterated slice of entertainment.