Hold onto your seats, Shane Schofield is back, and the two year break since Area 7 has not wearied him.
Wunderkind adventure writer, Matthew Reilly, forces his signature character ‘Scarecrow’ to run faster, further, blow more stuff up with more fantastical weapons and travel to the depths of the world and his psyche in Reilly’s fifth book, titled for the central character.
Also back for the ride are love interest Libby ‘Fox’ Gant, the peg-legged but tough ‘Mother’, right hand man Book II and making his debut Reilly appearance, Scarecrow’s ‘evil twin’, the Black Knight.
We begin our adventure in London, where 12 of the world’s richest and most influential business men are issuing a bounty list – 15 men from various military associations or terrorist organizations who have the potential to foil their tyrannical plans, including our Captain Schofield.
In the first of dozens of round-the-world jump cuts, Reilly moves the pace to Siberia, where Schofield first learns he’s a hunted man with a bounty of US$18.6 million on his head, but naturally escapes their clutches (albeit momentarily) by blowing a whopping great hole in the Siberian landscape.
A minor event in the scheme of a Matthew Reilly novel.
In the tradition of great adventure writers like Wilbur Smith, the cover image for Scarecrow indicates the selling power of Reilly’s name – it occupy’s more space than the title of the book.
Written in now-trademark Reilly style, Scarecrow vividly takes readers on a whirlwind trip around the world, trashing billions of dollars worth of military machinery, property and weaponry (some real, some visionary) as he goes, and taking on bounty hunters, international intelligence agencies and political superpowers.
Reilly spares no character – if they aren’t advancing the novel (or if their death will) their lives are tossed away like cardboard dolls, never to be written of again.
As in Area 7 and Ice Station, the new novel has an acute awareness of international diplomacy, and some of the events in Scarecrow are eerily reminiscent of recent world events, or take popular conspiracy theories and rumours to the next level - making fictitious enemies of the world’s superpowers.
Scarecrow is also the first novel released since the September 11 attacks (Area 7 was released weeks before the event, and many readers found themselves reading a novel mimicking the US President’s responses in the days following the attacks), and the story references the events and their effects on the world, making a plot which would normally seem fantastical, that little bit more believable.
With the film rights to several of his books already sold, Scarecrow will no doubt be snapped up quickly. Reilly is a child of the electronic media generation, and as such has developed a writing style that reads like an action movie (think Tomb Raider, or event Star Wars), and no doubt adapts extremely well to script format. He hopes to direct the film of one of his books one day – and we all look forward to that next step in the Reilly dynasty.
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