The Break Line by James Brabazon

The Break Line

James Brabazon

When it comes to killing terrorists British intelligence has always had one man they could rely on, Max McLean. As an assassin, he’s never missed, and now he must complete a mission that becomes a horror from beyond his nightmares.

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British intelligence operative and hardened assassin, Max McLean, battles a nightmarish enemy in this stunning debut thriller from an award winning war correspondent.

When it comes to killing terrorists British intelligence has always had one man they could rely on, Max McLean. As an assassin, he's never missed, but Max has made one miscalculation and now he has to pay the price.

His handlers send him to Sierra Leone on a seemingly one-way mission. What he finds is a horror from beyond his nightmares. Rebel forces are loose in the jungle and someone or something is slaughtering innocent villagers. It's his job to root out the monster behind these abominations, but he soon discovers that London may consider him the most disposable piece in this operation.


Advance Galley Reviews

Suspenseful novel. Good plot, but had a bit to much detail. Some of the extra detail made me doze off. Also at some parts it was a bit more gore than I enjoy in a book. It did have a bunch of twists and turns and good chase scenes.

Now here is a thriller you can’t put down but probably should, at least before going to bed. If you do choose to read into the wee hours be prepared for the unspeakable horror described within to spike your dreams with nightmare. Warning dispensed. That being said, this is an action-packed ride of a novel. It’s loaded with everything a good espionage tale should have: Russian bad guys, bio-terror, hidden agendas and a fast-paced plot helmed by an orphaned, Irish hitman. This looks to be the first in a series featuring anti-hero, Max McLean. Dispatched from London as an off-the-books hitman, Max takes out terrorists all over the world. His missions are to follow instructions, ask no questions and eliminate the target, whomever he or she may be. When he chooses not to kill a mark at the book’s outset, his bosses send him on what looks to be a career-ending mission. McLean is sent to war torn Sierra Leone to seek out and kill a target who potentially has created a bio-weapon of unknown, yet enormous consequence. He is given a minimal amount of information and sent into the area with only a local guide to assist. Brabazon, a British documentary filmmaker and journalist by day, gets a lot right in his fictional debut. The action is swift and creative, the combat skills believable and the plot keeps the reader invested in it’s outcome. The author trespasses over the border of sci-fi and fantasy but not enough to alienate the reader. It is to Brabazon’s credit THE BREAK LINE reads like a Mission Impossible script, though some of the more graphic content would need to be adjusted for the big screen. The violence is gruesomely detailed, for example, the aftermath of a battle waged in a small village as witnessed by McLean is graphic and not for the faint of heart, see: toss your cookies. Overall, THE BREAK LINE is an extremely engaging read with a protagonist to grow with and look forward to seeing in future installments. Thanks to Penguin Random House’s FIRST TO READ program for this digital ARC in exchange for a candid review.

After a botched assignment in Venezuela, Max Maclean receives orders to return to London. Max is prepared to be criticized severely by superiors , but instead he receives his final mission as an assassin for the British government. He is to travel to Sierra Leone and eliminated the white leader of a rebel band. However, he has a nagging feeling that something isn’t right. He soon learns that his briefing was highly inadequate and the situation quickly goes from bad to worse . James Brabazon’s debut reads like you typical thriller, however, it’s not. He constructs a fast paced story filled with equal parts of vibrant descriptions of the African savanna and graphic death( not for the faint hearted). The Break Line is a strong debut for Brabazon. His travels as a filmmaker provide him with exciting storylines for future novels.

Four Stars A modern version the old Cold War spy novel. Terrorists replace the Soviets and there is someone in his agency that does not want him to live.

I didn't know what to expect when I started reading this book. It started a little slow for me, but then I realized that it was setting up the story for what later is revealed. The Break Line had a lot of action, killing and government espionage. It became a very entertaining story. I'm interested in knowing what will happen next to Max.

I'm in the middle of the road with this one. I neither loved it or hated it. I probably will read more of the series as it becomes available, but I'm not going to go out of my way to do so.

Max McLean is a British assassin whose last mission in Venezuela failed when he not only failed to kill his prey, but actually helped her to escape. He is given another chance with an assignment in Sierra Leone. In preparation for the assignment, he visits a former associate who was previously sent to Sierra Leone to pave the way for Max. Sonny Boy came back terrified and had to be institutionalized and his ravings hold dire warnings for Max. From the moment that Max arrives in Sierra Leone things go wrong. People associated with the operation are dying and as he gets closer to his objective he discovers villages that have been viciously attacked with no survivors. It is clear to Max that ther is more to the mission than he was told. In a land torn apart by rebels and Ebola, the world’s major powers are involved in a war of their own. Brabazon has written a story with non-stop action and a number of unexpected twists. There are so many great thriller writers at the moment and I believe that you can add James Brabazon to the list.

The Break Line is the first in Brabazon's gritty, bloody, Max McLean espionage series. Like Donald Hamilton's Max Helm, McLean is a trained killer who deals with his assignments not only with graphic violence but with an understanding of how the real world operates. His world is short, nasty, and brutish. McLean is a British spy, but not the suave debonair James Bond variety. The story takes place in War-torn Sierra Leone, a land with which Brabazon is intimately familiar, having traveled through it. And sadly Sierra Leone like much of Africa has been torn asunder by diseases such as a Ebola and vicious rebels who have no boundaries, no lines of decency that they are afraid to cross. And, against this brutal background, the machinations of the superpowers and their allies play out. Brabazon may not at this point have an extensive library, but he is clearly a force to be reckoned with.

This is a fun spy/outbreak mashup -- reminds me a bit of the JJ Abrams Overlord trailers, though focused on one guy finding crazy experiements instead of a group of soldiers...with a bit of Island of Dr Moreau as well. Max's narration and continual self-analysis gave a good, if shifting, perspective to all of the crazy things going on around him, and the twists and turns do a good job setting up a crazy action climax, while keeping a good pace of action, plot, and twists along the way. Vivid, brutal descriptions of injuries and infections make it a wonder how Max goes as far as he does, and his interactions with females are mainly attempting to show some humanity on his part and balance the "stone cold killing machine" vision he seems to have of himself. I could see both prequels and sequels being a part of this series, as he certainly appears to have a rich experience and backstory and network of brothers in arms and experience as a teenage orphan/recruit turned sniper/agent over 26 years before we meet him. This was a fun action romp with vivid, cinematic descriptions with just enough thought-provoking perspectives on Africa and the affects of Euro/American colonization and exploitation as well as the role of science and research in providing information that can be both a tool and a weapon, depending on who is wielding it. I received a copy of "The Break Line" by James Brabazon from First to Read as an ARC.

This is a debut thriller for this author....& he's done a real good job of it! It's about a 'sanctioned' assassin, altho no government would ever claim him...he works as an 'unknown'....& he's very lethal & dangerous! This being about a killer, it is filled with descriptive violence & gore....I almost found some of it gruesome/repulsive.....so be warned! This read won't be for everyone! There is a lot of espionage/military type activity, & sometimes that became a bit challenging to keep track of all the 'players'.......but it certainly is a thriller & action packed, & a pretty fast read.... considering the subject matter. And it kind of makes you wonder.....what really goes on, could go on.....regarding these 'issues'??? I received this e-ARC in a Penguin's First-To-Read giveaway, in return for reading & offering my own independent, fair & honest review.

I received a copy of "The Break Line" by James Brabazon from First to Read as an ARC. The beginning of the novel reminds me of some of the earlier Ian Fleming "Bond" novels. The main character, Max, is pretty much the epitome of the cold blooded assassin. For instance, Max visits a friend in the hospital for more information on an assignment that he is about to undertake. In the visit, his friend becomes violently crazy with a resulting graphic fight scene in which Max's friend is grievously injured. Max's reaction was much like what we would have expected from 'Bond' but over time, the author develops this thread much more fully, even tying it into the story's end. The author does not develop the Max's back story at first but threads it through the entire book which includes some rather terrifying viral zombie-like revelations. In all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it as an excellent escapist read.

An interesting combination of James Bond, "Outbreak," and "World War Z" that seems drawn straight from the Cold War spies and grand machinations of the early 1980s. If you like escapist adventure with a touch of the strange (and in places rather horrifying) to keep your adrenaline going, this will be a great read!

The Break Line is the first novel in the Max McLean series by award winning war correspondent, James Brabazon. His military experience is readily apparent in this, his first thriller. Brabazon’s observations and experiences as a correspondent have certainly allowed him to add more detail and depth to this political thriller. Brabazon’s fictional assassin is Maximilian Ivan Drax Pierpoint Mac Ghill’ean, commonly known as Max McLean. At age nineteen, Max is tested and deemed a “legally sane psychopath”. He has been recruited into a secret unit of the British military, designated “The Unknown” or UKN. Twenty-three years in, he allows his personal feelings to sway him from completing an assignment, and it’s all downhill from there. Max is given one last mission before he will be allowed to leave the anonymity of the unit. The plot twists begin even before he reaches Sierra Leone in West Africa, the location for his final mission. Once Max locates his target he realizes that he has been betrayed. He’s just not sure by whom. There is plenty of action for the thrill-seekers. At times, it reads like the car chase sequence in your favorite “by the seat of your pants” movie. You’re right there in the front row of the theater. The story twists, turns, spins, upends and eventually rights itself, but Max will never be the same. He now knows why his old commander advised his recruits that the day would come when the pressure of the job would bring the roof in. “The question is, which side of the break line will you be on?” The author has created a realistic character. Max, the assassin, is fully-developed and has a complete backstory. The reader doesn’t have to wonder why he became who he is. The plot is amazingly intricate and utterly believable. Brabazon has also done an admirable job with the scenery. He has brought the jungle to life. Both the terrain and the animals that reside in the darkest of places are brilliantly described and incorporated into the action. If a good book is one that grabs your attention at the beginning and holds it to the end, and you immediately know what’s going on and that doesn’t change; how do you characterize a book that grabs and holds your attention but your opinion about what’s REALLY going on constantly changes? I’d say I just read it, and it’s not good, or even great, it’s superlative. This is an expertly written novel, especially for a debut in the genre. Brabazon has set the bar high for himself. The Break Line is a political thriller with an assassin, an action thriller with an assassin, a scientific thriller with an assassin and a medical thriller with an assassin. It’s actually all that and more. I only found one flaw in the writing. Mr. Brabazon assumes we’ve all been in the military and will recognize the jargon, myriad acronyms, and complicated interconnections. Despite the over abundance of unnecessary military-speak and strategy, I rate it 5 out of 5 stars, only because that’s the maximum I could give it. It deserves more. If you’re a fan of thrillers with a love him or hate him assassin, The Break Line is going to become one of your favorites. If you’re squeamish about extreme violence with lots of blood and guts, this is not the book for you. I was given the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book as part of Penguin's First to Read program. However, the opinions expressed in this review are 100% mine and mine alone.

Not what I expected, kind of a mash up of genres! Assassins, spies, crazy scientists, violence and Big trouble in Sierra Leone await Max. He has a bad feeling this is a one way mission. A lot of violence, but an entertaining book.

Perfect escape-vacation-brain candy book – assassins, spies, exotic locales, conspiracies, and mad scientists galore! This book reminded me a bit of James Rollins’ Sigma Plot series with a smattering of I am Pilgrim (Terry Hayes). Hoping this is the first of many Max McLean books!

 


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