Time to review Peter May’s “The Reporter”, the novel based on the television series “The Standard“. It is a fun, entertaining and snappy book. “The Reporter” is very much a straight up thriller which makes it a quick and enjoyable read.
I wasn’t actually expecting it to be such a action-packed thriller. I thought it would be more of a newspaper/office politics drama with action taking place in the Standard’s office, but actually there was very little taking place there. Felicity and Peter Dawson, characters who have front and center roles in the first episode of “The Standard” which RFodchuk and I have been lucky enough to see and review, make only cursory appearances in the novel. Alex Forsyth, a character who is sort of Colin’s rival, figures more heavily, but even he isn’t seen or heard from much.
Instead, Colin conducts some very intense investigative reporting which takes him and his research assistant Janis Sinclair all over Europe. He is looking into a string of North Sea disasters that have been giving the UK’s oil industry loads of grief.
I won’t go into details about the investigation since it is all very convoluted, and I’d rather focus on Colin’s character development. But, some of his discoveries remind me of the television series “Hunted“. Colin falls foul of a mysterious company ran by an even more mysterious character named Grebbs. Little is known about this shadowy German, but when he is finally revealed he is described (in my opinion) as being a dead ringer for Ronald Lacey. You know, the melting Nazi in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and a slimy crim on “Minder on the Orient Express“.
Well, Grebbs’ company has been subtly bought out and infiltrated by various Arab interests. They are looking to destroy British oil independence by orchestrating oil rig disasters and creating various other economic shenanigans via blackmail and deceit. It reminds me of Polyhedrus, the secretive conglomerate in “Hunted” who were doing their level best to destroy our hero (yes, our hero) Jack Turner and thwart his plan of dominating international water rights via his company Turner Holdings. Just swap oil for water and you’re there. 😉
Colin Anderson, A Complicated Man With a Complicated Background
Let’s discuss Colin. His background is a central theme of the book as it somewhat explains his drive and ruthlessness. It also raises a few questions for me. In the book it is revealed that he was raised in South Africa, born to a Scottish father and a Dutch mother. His alcoholic father beat both Colin and his mother, eventually injuring the mother so badly that she was paralyzed and placed in a care home.
After that awful tragedy, Colin spent some more time in South Africa under the care of a warm Jewish couple who doted on him as though he were their own son. When he got older he was sent to England to attend a rigid boarding school.
In the series Colin has a delightfully strong and robust Scottish accent. However, after reading that background I have a hard time understanding why he would sound so Scottish. Granted his father was Scottish, but I don’t think Colin would have such an accent with that sort of upbringing. I am very curious as to whether or not that background ever came into play throughout the run of the series or if it is in the novel only.
Anyway, Colin, unsurprisingly, has a very dim and loathful view of his father. Even worse, he sees some aspects of his father’s bullying and dominating personality in his own mirror. Colin self-consoles by telling himself that he uses his forceful persona to do good for the world, but it is little consolation when he knows he hurts people along the way.
One of the people he frequently hurts is his research assistant Janis Sinclair. She isn’t his assistant by his choice. The paper foisted her upon him as a way of keeping tabs on him. However, she proves herself to be extremely helpful, resourceful and loyal, so he quickly learns to appreciate her. But that doesn’t stop him from taking advantage of her and occasionally bullying her. She loves him, and he knows it. He uses her love to his advantage regularly even though he knows it hurts her. Yeah, he feels guilty about it and is generally nice to her, but Colin is the sort of guy who will mow down anyone to get what he wants. Eventually, of course, he realizes that she is special to him and that he loves her. But is it too little too late?
What’s With All the Cigars?
Oh, and I have to mention this because it was just too much. 🙂 Colin loves cigars! I mean he loves them to the point he literally chain smokes them. Who chain smokes cigars, right? Colin does. Seriously, there is a section where he lights five cigars over four pages. 😀 Granted, he was doing a lot of driving at the time (he was trying to lose a tail and initiate a final meeting with Grebbs), but that is a bit extreme. And he isn’t relighting the same cigar over or anything because he gets really annoyed when he realizes he has ran out of cigars. Pace yourself, Colin!
Read It If You Can
If you ever do get a chance to read this book (at whatever your would consider a reasonable price), I certainly recommend it. I have seen it from time-to-time on Amazon at silly prices, and I wouldn’t recommend doing that. But, if you like action-packed thrillers filled with international intrigue, then you’ll like “The Reporter”.