Scarecrow and The Army of Thieves by Matthew Reilly
At an abandoned Soviet base in the Arctic, a battle to save all life on Earth is about to begin…
THE SECRET BASE It is a top-secret base known only as Dragon Island. A long-forgotten relic of the Cold War, it houses a weapon of terrible destructive force, a weapon that has just been re-activated…
AN ARMY OF MURDERERS When Dragon Island is seized by a brutal terrorist force calling itself the Army of Thieves, the fate of the world suddenly hangs in the balance. But there are no crack units close enough to get to Dragon in time to stop the Army setting off the weapon.
ONE SMALL TEAM Except, that is, for a small equipment-testing team up in the Arctic led by a Marine captain named Schofield, call-sign SCARECROW. It’s not a strike team; just a handful of Marines and civilians. It’s not equipped to attack a fortified island held by a small army. But it will go in anyway, because someone has to.
THE ULTIMATE HERO IS BACK, FACING THE ULTIMATE ARMY OF VILLAINS.
Reviewing books can sometimes be a bit of a double-edged sword. On the plus side, I get to read some of the best new fiction, often before released, which is always pretty damn cool. The downside is that sadly, there aren’t enough hours in the day and I just can’t fit every book I want into my schedule, much as I’d like to try. Books get published at such a rapid rate of knots nowadays I often miss stuff that I’d really love to read.
Perfect example, last week I was in my local bookshop and a stumbled across Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves. Turns out that this book has been out since August 2012 and I was blissfully ignorant of the fact. Needless to say, I was compelled to rectify the situation immediately.
In this novel, Shane Schofield and squad are tasked with taking down a mad man who is hell bent on creating global chaos. In a smart move, the bulk of The Army of Thieves’ tasks place over the course of a single day. It’s a supremely effective plot device when it comes to a thriller. The characters, and the reader along with them, don’t even get time to blink. The pacing is truly relentless.
My favourite Reilly character continues to be Gena ‘Mother’ Newman and she makes a welcome return here. Mother is Scarecrow’s fiercely loyal second in command. She’s six foot four, tough as nails and kicks all manner of ass. Put it this way, she ain’t called Mother because of her strong maternal instincts. In the Army of Thieves, Mother finally encounters her male equivalent, a hulking French special forces soldier, Master Sergeant Jean-Claude Francois Michel Huguenot, Le Barbarian. The scenes where they are dishing out their own particular brands of hyper-violent justice are breath-taking. It appears Mother may have met her match.
Thinking about it, this is probably the darkest Scarecrow novel to date. The fallout from previous stories has finally caught up with Shane Schofield and the toll is starting to show. I’ll avoid spoilers but suffice to say Scarecrow isn’t just battling external forces. He has same inner demons that require just as much attention. There are a handful of really dark moments that were genuinely unexpected. It’s nice to see the continued evolution of Scarecrow’s character.
The previous Scarecrow novels have been a firm favourite of mine for a while now. Reilly is an expert when it comes to crafting novels that are chock full of non-stop action. Every time you think things can’t get any more outrageous, Reilly pushes things just that little bit more, constantly upping the ante. For example, there are polar bear fights in this novel, people. POLAR BEARS. There are rats as well, but the less said about them the better.
The plot leans towards the utterly bonkers but it’s always wonderfully so. There is no doubting that Reilly’s thrillers are hugely entertaining. The best advice I can give any new reader is try to give yourself entirely to the over-the-top plot. If you can’t manage that then this isn’t the book for you.
The narrative is full to bursting with high-octane outlandishness that I’ll agree is hugely silly but is also massively enjoyable. If however, you acclimatise yourself to this, there are plenty of extreme set pieces that are guaranteed to put a smile on the face of your average thrill seeker. You remember that wonderful feeling you get when you watch a great action movie for the first time? Matthew Reilly’s writing captures that sensation on every single page. As an aside, Hollywood NEED to be making movies with this character now, they could be spectacular. I strongly urge you to try this novel out. If you enjoy The Army of Thieves there are another four Scarecrow novels that have already been published. I can heartily recommend each of them but I would suggest you consider reading them in published order if you can. All of Matthew Reilly’s novels are most definitely worthy of any thriller fan’s time.
Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves is published by Orion Books and is available now.