Game Of Wits

Twenty million dollars from the sky? You just know there's gonna be a catch...

"Endgame", by James Elliott, is racy and action packed right from the word go. A private jet crashes into a lake in absolute wilderness, and the only witnesses are two nearby campers, who find more than they bargained for when they set about looking for survivors...twenty million dollars in hard cash, and no survivors to tell the tale! So they decide to split it, thinking that no one need ever be the wiser.

What they hadn’t counted on was the fact that the money belonged to one of the most powerful and ruthless group of criminals they could ever be up against, with connections to the President himself. Eddie Barnes and Ben Stafford had picked the wrong people to mess with, however unknowingly.

The CIA, which served as a smoke screen for this gang’s activities, had planted a radio transmitter with the cash, enabling them to track their every move. The two campers aren’t amateurs either, having worked for a counter terrorist unit in the past, and are more than capable of looking after themselves. Still, within 48 hours, one of them is dead, and a life-threatening attack has been made on his partner. From here on, the action is nonstop, with the murdered man’s sister and Stafford teaming up to find out exactly who was behind Eddie’s killing and why.

The plot has been well-crafted, although there are virtually no twists in the tale; this one is as in-your-face as they come. There are the murderers and counterfeiters on one side, the cops and the Secret Service on the other, and our protagonists sandwiched in between. Elliott has treated the shootouts and car chases remarkably and one can almost see them jumping to life from the pages of the book. This would make one great cops-n-robbers movie; the vivid visual imagery he successfully conjures up is impressive.

Elliott has left no stone unturned to make the cat and mouse chase as complex as possible, throwing in drug lords, FBI agents and CAT (Counter Assault Team) commandos to liven things up and add to the unending action. Although his characters are hackneyed (the honourable protagonist with his crippled daughter, for whose expensive treatment he touched money that wasn’t his, the beautiful and dynamic gun toting sister of the murdered man who won’t rest until she has her revenge, and the usual quota of wicked henchmen, corrupt officials and slick diplomats) the story manages to hold the reader’s interest as well as his/her breath at times!

By the sheer force of its eventfulness, it is eminently readable...and besides, how novel can one expect a character in an action thriller to be? These stories have already been done to death; keeping that in mind, Elliott has done a fantastic job.

"Endgame" is definitely not for those who’d rather read about the latest romantic attachments of celebrities, or Mills and Boon paperbacks. But for anyone who enjoys a fast paced narrative and some great action, this book is just the go ahead and pick it up.

This article was first published on18 Apr 2001.