Once again Matt Reilly delivers a seat-of-your-pants thriller. A laugh out-loud at the sheer glorious outlandishness of it all. The third I believe in the Scarecrow series, this time we find Shane “Scarecrow ” Shofield, and his best friend and Marine buddy Mother, an imposing woman of many talents with a gun, two others marines he doesn’t know, and 4 civilians – one an agent from a top DARPA contractor trying to get his product to be chosen and his assistant Chad, and then there’s Zack, the geek with the robot Bertie, and Emma, a scientist who studies atmospheric conditions, etc. up near the Arctic Circle. They are tasked to try out a lot of new gear and weapons, to see how well they perform in the arctic environment near the North Pole. Shane receives a call from his commander that they are the second closest team to a mysterious island in the arctic, known as Dragon’s Island, an old cold war Soviet installation, which has been taken over by an Army of Thieves as they call themselves who are about to rain destruction down on the entire northern hemisphere. The closest team is a sub team, lead by “Ironbark,” a talented soldier. Also in the vicinity, unknown to them, is a French sub, led by “Renard,” an assassin and her companion “Baba,” a giant of a man, with a gun as big, who are tasked by the French secret CIA equivalent to kill him – there is a bounty on his head for his destroying a French sub and the killing of her brother (all will be explained later). Ironbark says to stay clear – that they are equipped to handle this, and Shofiled and his band of civilians aren’t. But Schofield thinks that even so, they might be a handy back-up, which it turns out, of course they are. Staying back at camp, unwilling to help them save the world is the agent from the contractor – all the others are willing to come and help, although it’s unclear what some can do, esp. Emma.
In true Matt Reilly style, once the goal gets going, the going never stops until the final page. This one I had to read in a couple of nights, as it got me too worked up if I read until I went to bed. It was absurd in places, impossible in others, but pure unadulterated fun all the way through. And the star was Bertie – the little robot that could. Some of the stunts left me gasping with hilarity, for the sheer ingeniousness of it. How plausible it was, only someone with more knowledge of physics, and engineering would know, but leave your disbelief at the front cover, and enter the world of Shane,”Scarecrow” Shofield, where “no” is NOT an option. And in a wonderful group of traveling companions. The books sings with magic.