Review: Capture or Kill by Tom Marcus, Macmillan Publishers

Erich Mayer

By choosing to write realistically about a contemporary problem Marcus has posed an important ethical question.
Review: Capture or Kill by Tom Marcus, Macmillan Publishers

Tom Marcus' Capture or Kill published by Pan Macmillan Australia.

Tom Marcus has the personal knowledge and experience of someone who has served in the UK's special forces and in MI5. He has the imagination to conceive a gripping and complex plot and the ability to write it well. The result is Capture or Kill – a thrilling story about a suspected terrorist plot and the methods used to try to prevent its execution. Understandably, Capture or Kill has been optioned for a TV series.

The story unfolds mostly through the eyes of Matt Logan who is in large part the novel's narrator. We learn about his love of family and devotion to his work as an undercover agent. Like many whose career requires long absences from family life, Logan is conflicted. Does he do the work he believes is essential to keep his country safe or does he spend the time he wants and needs with his family?

When Logan is selected to join a 'deniable team' to hunt out terrorists he has good reason to give it all he can. He is told that such a team is not 'bound by the usual rules. You decide you need to go as far as you need to counter the threat'. In other words, ignore the bureaucracy, ignore the rules and regulations, kill if necessary. And if you are caught, the powers that be have never heard of you; they would never be involved in any illegal activities even if it means terrorists literally get away with murder.

The team is code-named Blindeye and consists of a rather snotty upper-class team leader, and two women and five men selected for their special skills and experience. The team members get to know and trust each other and work well and efficiently together. A lot of their work involves tracing suspected terrorists and consists of complex surveillance manoeuvres.

One of the team members, Alan Woodburn, is their technical wizard. If something can be done electronically Woodburn can do it. If some computer or network can be hacked, he is the man. His consummate skill is a major factor in the successful operation of Blindeye. For the reader it is a reminder of how important the use, and abuse, of technology has become in warfare of any kind.

Marcus has cleverly decided to let the reader know more than Matt and his colleagues. So a few chapters are devoted to one of the terrorists telling part of the story from his own point of view. Thus the reader begins to understand just how clever, well-trained and well-resourced the terrorists are and how likely it is that they will succeed with what turns out to be a most ingenious plot.

This novel has been written for entertainment and is well worth reading for that alone. However, by choosing to write realistically about a contemporary problem Marcus has posed an important ethical question that bedevils governments of countries under potential attacks from terrorists: can the murder of a few be justified if it prevents the murder of many?

Rating: 4 ½ stars ★★★★☆ 

Capture or Kill 
By Tom Marcus

ISBN: 9781509863587
Format: Trade Paperback
Pub Date: 29/05/2018
Category: Fiction & related items / Espionage & spy thriller
Imprint: Macmillan
Pages: 400
Price: $29.99 

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Erich Mayer is a retired company director and former organic walnut farmer. He now edits the blog