Below the Thunder by Robin Duval

Published by Matador


Robin Duval’s follow-up to Bear in the Woods is a heart-in-mouth tale of international conspiracy, self-discovery and romance. 

One summer evening in Bavaria, fortyish history professor Bryn Williams – more Frasier than Bond – falls simultaneously into love and mortal danger. He becomes a target for MI6, Mossad and an American hit man. Oblivious to his predicament, he continues his holiday in America. Walking alone in a National Park, he stumbles on a newly dead body. He is arrested for murder, and released only when evidence of a third party emerges. But when he discovers the identity of the killer, and reports it to the San Francisco police, his motel room is blown up. With no-one to turn to, he flees north. 

He is intercepted in the mountains by a cousin, who works for MI6. And by the woman he fell in love with in Bavaria. They persuade him – against his better judgment – to help frustrate a plot to destroy the American President. He is drawn into a web of conspiracy and deceit whose true nature only gradually becomes apparent. 

As the narrative races towards its unexpected and shocking climax, the hero discovers untapped reserves of talent – as lover and as man of action. 

This is also a tale about the underbelly of American and international politics. About the secret forces that drive people and nations towards destruction.

I came to this book without having read Duval’s previous novel and just the introduction that this was a novel from the man who’s best known for his time spent at the BBFC .  I must confess that the blurb above made me more than a little concerned that this was a book with just far too much going on, and I feared that it was an almost certain derailment waiting to happen with such a tangled and seemingly unbelievable plot.

It’s to Robin Duval’s credit, and my shame, that I was very mistaken – I found myself caught up in the at first slightly unbelievable and then all consuming tale of Bryn and his attempts to stay one step ahead of events that are fast crashing around him. Yes, there are moments when the reader will likely have ‘oh really?!’ reactions to some of the plot twists, some of which do at times seem very convenient, but the same can be said for many of the hollywood movies that Duval spent years watching in his BBFC role, and we all get swept along by those story lines pretty willingly.

Like an unsuspecting Jason Bourne fan getting caught up in his own fantasy adventure, this was a fun and entertaining ride across the globe with characters I enjoyed and would want to read more of in the future.



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