We have this British tough guy, code name Spartan.
For a moment, pretend his name is Biggles. It will help you understand how dumb this book is.
Biggles starts by protecting his Iranian source, in New York City for no good reason except the author probably cannot describe Tehran, from Iranian hit squads -- dozens of well-armed Iranian hit-spies in the Big Apple. What a sensible set-up.
He shoots 8-12 of them, and his compatriots, Able, Baker, and Charlie, or shall we call them Apple, Butthead, and Chump, are also killed. (Nobody ever mentions them again, because who cares about dead British agents.) He kills his Iranian source rather than letting him be captured, and as he falls into unconsciousness, he notes his three wounds, including a gaping hole in his abdomen.
Biggles wakes up the next morning feeling a bit stiff, but OK. Because a sorta doctor from the CIA has "fixed him". And because Spartan-Biggles is too damn tough to let three bullet wounds slow him down for a freaking minute. He pops a few pills and begins emoting.
After a strange, wooden, blocky conversation with CIA guy Patrick, he flies home. During the conversation, we learn that "Spartan-Biggles" is the one British agent code named Spartan, the product of a training process so tough that IF you survive it, you get to be the one guy named Biggles..... err, Spartan.
Yes, this makes sense. Sure. It takes several hundred thousand dollars to train one special forces trooper, so how about creating a training program that takes several of these guys, and trains them so hard that they DIE, and if one happens to survive, lets call him Biggles and make him a super-agent. By becoming Biggles, I think he gets $11 more per week.
As we progress, we find that our Biggles has a great habit. He often looks around the room, at all the people, and notes to himself and to them, that he might just have to kill them all, and of course, he could, and they know he could, because he is Biggles, the super-tough guy. When a book fails to note that several armed men can kill one armed man, even one with a cool code name, the book has lost touch with reality.
Biggles is no George Smiley. The conceit of this book is that Biggles is such a spymaster, that his skills will be unique in catching spies. Err... no, the plotting does not build, there are no layers, there are lots of shootings and knifings.
This book continues on this adolescent route, with a leaden hero who is laughable, who survives anything, kills dozens, and is a BAD comic book hero. Most of these adventure type novels have their traces of adolesence... Jack Reacher wanders the world a bit too much. Jack Ryan goes from analyst to shooter with no pause. But this guy lacks the tiniest bit of realism, the layer of connection to what being a tough guy is really all about (and it is not cartoon violence and walking away from gaping holes in your abdomen).
The writing is blocky, the dialogue is so bad it makes me giggle, the posturing lead character is such an ass that somebody would have hit him on the head with a shovel when his back was turned, years ago, as he was noting to the room that he just might have to kill them all. It becomes clear that the author is one of those guys whose toughest real life experience was a paper cut, who barely understands how to fight off a nap, and has no clear sense of how real people conduct themselves in a world of violence. I mean, the author has "MI6" experience -- did he shoot 8 guys in Central Park on a counter-terrorism operation? If not, then why does he make his hero live out such teen fantasies?
The author should have asked himself... if I called this guy Biggles instead of Spartan, would it work? And the answer would have been yes, because the book is a farce.