Rise of the Enemy by Rob Sinclair

I’ve often felt like I short-changed Rob Sinclair (and Matt Johnson, for that matter) when I reviewed their books. (http://segnalibro.co.uk/a-new-approach-to-reading/) Firstly, I didn’t so much review their books as use their books as a springboard to explain how I had changed my approach when selecting books to read, and secondly, they didn’t exactly get individual reviews; they had to share! I may never have started reviewing books on a regular basis had it not been for the impact that reading Dance with the Enemy and Wicked Game had on me so I do feel I owe a lot to these two authors for inadvertently setting me off on this book-reviewing path. (You all know who to blame, now!! ) To that end, I want to make sure that I do Rob Sinclair justice this time after I spent all day yesterday reading Rise of the Enemy, the second book in the Enemy series.

After reading Dance with the Enemy a couple of months ago, I was very excited to hear that the second book was being released on 30th April 2015, meaning that I didn’t have to wait too long to find out what Carl Logan was going to do next. After a shock ending that I would be surprised if anyone had seen coming, I wondered where Logan’s focus would be in the next book. I pre-ordered the download and was overjoyed to find it sitting in my Kindle library on Thursday morning. I’d managed to read the first few chapters but it was yesterday when I was finally able to sit down and read about Logan’s adventures with only a few interruptions by my lovely daughters.

I could sum this book up in one word: Brilliant! However, I would like to think that you would prefer me to qualify this statement. So I will. (Obviously, if my one word review is enough, then thanks for reading!)

Whilst it is feasible to read this book on its own (there are enough reminders throughout to get the gist) I would highly recommend that you read Dance with the Enemy first, so that you are fully aware of who Carl Logan is, who his friends are, what his background is. As I said, you would pick this up anyway to an extent but I don’t think that the reading experience would have the same impact without having some prior knowledge of how Logan’s mind works. I would imagine if you read these two books back to back, this would enhance the experience further.

Logan is in Russia when the first chapter opens, although we are treated to a spoiler in the Prologue. (Perhaps.) After the mission Logan is involved in goes horribly wrong and he is captured by the Russians, he is subjected to various (graphic) torture methods in order to get information out of him about the J.I.A., the secretive government agency that he works for. He manages to escape after three months of physical and psychological torture and finds himself in the unforgiving Siberian terrain. If that wasn’t challenging enough, he has no idea who he can and cannot trust. As he struggles to figure out who is friend and who is foe, Logan is still reeling over the betrayal that shocked him (and the readers) to the core at the end of Dance with the Enemy. Combined with the ideas put into his weak and confused head by the enigmatic and beautiful Russian, Lena, even the reader is left wondering who Logan should side with. At one point I was wondering just exactly who he had sided with, a further testament to Sinclair’s writing ability.

The structure to the book, at least in the first half, is slightly disorientating, but not so much that the plot cannot be followed. (This actually enhances the story, adding an extra level of suspension for the reader.) Once Logan has escaped from his captors, Sinclair alternates the chapters of his first person narrative with flashbacks to Logan’s experiences in captivity with Logan’s next moves to find out why his own agency didn’t come to rescue him and find out what the J.I.A. were getting in return for giving Logan to the Russians.

There are plenty of surprises throughout the book and the reader shares Logan’s mistrust of everyone and feels confusion when each character defends their actions, making you wonder if they are credible or not. Often, I suspected that a particular character would go one way and they went in the opposite direction. I certainly didn’t suspect the final link in the chain! (Apologies for the vagueness in these comments – as usual, I am trying very hard not to give the story away!)

The physical locations in the novel adds another layer of hostility as Logan finds himself in a number of Siberian blizzards. The severe weather conditions provides yet another enemy for Logan as he battles against the elements in whatever clothing he can get his hands on. Almost every necessity (money, i.d.’s etc.) is removed from Logan’s grasp and he needs to think on his feet to survive. Sinclair plays cat and mouse with Logan, passing him from one potential enemy to another, and Logan has to react with very little time to think and extremely limited resources. Logan can also no longer rely on his friend and mentor, Mackie, who is his boss at the J.I.A. There are conspiracies within conspiracies and the reader shares Logan’s devastation as he finds himself alone with no-one to trust but his own instincts.

Rise with the Enemy is a fantastic follow-up to Dance with the Enemy. Sinclair’s ability to merge Logan’s strengths with his vulnerabilities provides the reader with a rich narrative that leaves the reader cheering for Logan to succeed and hoping that those who prove to be his enemies get their rightful comeuppance. As Logan revisits old wounds from the first novel in the second, the reader is shown the depth of Logan’s sense of betrayal by those he reluctantly trusted and the two novels are seamless linked, leaving the reader desperate to know what happens next. I really hope that Sinclair doesn’t leave us waiting too long to find out!