Deep Black by Andy McNab
This is the seventh book in the Nick Stone series. Nick Stone is a former SAS soldier. He is working for US intelligence at the start of the novel, as a deniable operator, but he decides to walk away from it.
At the beginning, Nick has been sent by his superior, George, to see a shrink and during this he recounts a mission he did during the Bosnian War while in the SAS, to try to take out Ratko Mladic, one of the Serbs main military commanders. He was the man on the ground hiding and lasering a factory where the target was visiting, so it could be bombed by plane.
This section was filled with tension and suspense. I wanted to find out what would happen, even though I knew that Ratko Mladic had survived the Bosnian war. (He was captured and sent to the international court in the Haig earlier this year). I felt the author managed to express Nick's guilt at not being able to do anything to help the prisoners that were being raped and butchered at the factory, by the Serbs while he looked on. That was not his mission. He also uses that mission, as a metaphor for the loss of his god-daughter, Kelly who he has lost in the last novel. He still partially blames himself for her death. I could feel the loneliness and guilt; he has lost everything he has ever cared for.
The fact that in this novel, he has been unburdened of any responsibilities to family or any loved one, I feel has helped the author to improve his story telling skills. The plotline of him in the previous novels of having to do missions for UK and US intelligence, because he needed the money to support his god-daughter was getting tiresome. As we find out during this novel, he likes his lifestyle as a soldier. That is what he is trained to do and is good at.
Nick decides to quit working for US intelligence. Wandering into an exhibition of photographs taken during the Bosnian war, he meets Jerry, a photographer he met while in Bosnia. Jerry wants to find and photograph a Ghandi like figure called Nuhanovic, who wants to peacefully unite all Muslims. Nick is still haunted by the mission he did in Bosnia, but he recalls seeing Nuhanovic turn up and free most of the prisoners while he was there. Having nothing better to do he agrees to come along and help Jerry.
He does spend most of the novel searching for Nuhanovic in Iraq and Bosnia, but it didn't feel like the story was dull or too long. This is set just after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, so it was interesting to see how things were there, and also in Bosnia.
This time fortunately, he didn't actually follow many people around doing surveillance while they are going about doing their normal day to day things, or hiding out in a hide and observing someone like he normally does for 80% of the book.
It felt like there was more going on than earlier novels in this series. Nick meets a lot of his old colleagues from the SAS in Iraq and the action itself, wasn't just pistols firing but RPG's and missiles. There seemed to be more action probably because Iraq is a warzone and they have fighting going on all around them.
== Audio Narration ==
This was read by Clive Mantle. I would have to say I prefer his voice to Paul Thornly who has narrated some of the other novels in the Nick Stone series.
It was unabridged and is 10 hours and 43 mins in length. It is available on the Audible website.
== Summary and recommendation ==
I would have to give this 4 stars. This is one of the better books in the Nick Stone series. I actually wanted to keep reading and find out what happened. The settings themselves are not set in normal peaceful surroundings, which created a sense of danger normally not felt in his earlier books. The removal of Kelly, his god-daughter allowed Nick to concentrate on the mission and not ruminate much on her, which also helped to increase the pace of the novel.