Hector Cross is a former Operative in search of vengeance for the murder of his billionaire wife, Hazel Bannock, and Johnny Congo, a criminal mastermind is one of the two men responsible. Johnny manages to escape death row a second time and is also seeking vengeance for his lover, partner in crime and step-son of Hazel Bannock; Carl Bannock, who Hector fed to his own crocodiles.
It’s a hell of a polygon but to simplify things; Hector met Hazel, a widow while working for her oil firm; Bannock Oil, and Carl, her step son and killer met Johnny Congo in prison.
This book happens to be the third in the Hector Cross Series. I haven’t read the previous two, however this didn’t make this book unenjoyable. The writer provided just enough material to make this book wholesome even without the details of the earlier books.
It’s a fast paced book, beginning with Johnny Congo’s escape on the way to the electric chair and the action doesn’t let up. Hector learns of the escape and teams up with his trusted friends; all ex-military, to find Johnny one more time, and to do what he should have done before.
Despite being very action-oriented, women played significant roles in this story, portrayed not just as sexually alluring but as devious, ruthless, strategic and physically capable in combat. The Voronva sisters, Nastiya and Zhenia brought feminism to life, with a touch of wealth and flamboyance as is custom with Russian Oligarchs lavish living.
Wilbur Smith is a genius. His metaphors and use of adjectives are spectacular and he had me laughing at things that weren’t inherently funny.
Johnny Congo was crammed into his cubicle like a cannonball in a matchbox. He was a huge man, six foot six tall, and built to match. He was wearing a prisoner’s uniform of a white, short-sleeved cotton polo shirt, tucked into elasticized, pyjama-style pants, also white…. The uniform was designed to be loose, but on Johnny Congo it was as tight as a sausage skin and the buttons strained to contain the knotted muscles of his chest, shoulders and upper arms, which gave him the look of a Minotaur: the half-man, half-bull monster of Greek mythology.
Wilbur’s description of swimming in the sea and being hit by waves was so detailed, it was easy to experience it despite being in the very dry comforts of my bed. His combat scenes are phenomenal. As an avid gamer, it was easy to relate to despite never having fired a real weapon in my life.
I like the writer’s detailed knowledge of Africa and how he portrays it. The story centers on oil drilling offshore, so seeing familiar countries like Angola, Congo, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa and most importantly Nigeria referenced in the story, sat very well with me. He didn’t stop at just the countries, he wove in real places like Accra, Lagos and Port-Harcourt along side Washington and London. Despite being a foreign writer, I love him already.
You’ll understand the first thing I want to say, which is this: Africa isn’t poor. The great mass of Africans is still very poor. But Africa itself is very rich. Or, at least, it could be. You mean if corrupt leaders didn’t keep all their people’s wealth for themselves and siphon off most of the aid given to them by guilt-ridden suckers in the West?” said Cross, who liked the way Bobbi Franklin thought almost as much as the way she looked.
Welcome to the new Africa,” Cross replied. “People in the West still think of starving kids with swollen bellies, holding out begging bowls, but Africans aren’t like that any more. They don’t need our charity, however much some people want to give it to them, just to feel better about themselves. What they need is our business.”
My grievance with the plot is with killing Jo Stanley, Hector Cross’ ex-girlfriend and attorney. I was hoping they’d work things out and live happily ever after.
My grievance with the writer is the disappointing end. Now, it’s not enough that the bad guy dies, that goes without saying. The thrill is in the detail. The end of this book felt rushed. It would have been nice to hear Johnny Congo’s thoughts and his wry sense of humor right before the end.
- Did he realized that he was going to be eaten by sharks like Carl was devoured by crocodiles? Did he grasp the irony of it all?
- Did he wish Jo Stanley “the b***h” was there to save him from Hector Cross one more time?
- Did he’d considered a peaceful surrender knowing that he could escape from the US authorities a third time.
- Would he have preferred the electric chair and a grand burial like he had faked, to being eaten up by sharks in that Atlantic ocean near Libreville.
I feel like the author just rushed the end by giving us only Hector Cross’ perspective at the pinnacle of the story. Here, George R. R Martins wins. R.R Martins portrays primary characters thoughts and their perspectives to the very end. This does not mean I condone his tardiness in releasing the 6th book to the Songs of Ice and Fire Series popularly known by the TV series Game of Thrones (GOT).
Summarily, I think I’ll read the first two books of this series. Predator is a well-written, action-packed story and if you like combat and espionage, this book is for you.