I read and enjoyed two of Robinson's earlier works, Hunter Killer and Ghost Force. Both received "rave" reviews from me.
Unfortunately, "To The Death" is a turkey. It is dull, highly predictable, contains many factual errors and borrows heavily from the plot of The Day of the Jackal. The novel, which is billed as the "conclusion of his bestselling series starring Admiral Arnold Morgan and his terrorist nemesis, General Ravi Rashood".
The book begins with a bang, so to speak, with a terrorist bomb in Boston's Logan Airport. This scene is so far-fetched that I was tempted to set the novel aside within the first few pages. I would have been better off doing so.
I don't like getting into a lot of plot details for fear of spoiling it for others who may not share my opinion of this book as a waste of time. After all, if you're looking for something to put you to sleep while stuck at an airport or on a long flight, "To The Death" may be helpful.
In any event, the clumsiness of the opening scenes is simply a harbinger of all that follows. A Middle Eastern appearing male in line at an airport security checkpoint asks "Excuse me, sir . . . I have two quite heavy briefcases here and I'm just going over to the Starbucks for some coffee. Would you mind keeping an eye on one of them for me . . .?" The story is set in 2012. Does Thompson seriously expect us to believe that someone would be stupid enough to go along with this request? How is the Middle Easterner going to exit the security queue? No questions about how he is going to manage carrying a coffee with his two "quite heavy" briefcases? In any event, the companion to the yokel who agrees to watch the one briefcase notices - big surprise - that the Middle Eastern appearing gentleman has passed the Starbucks and is heading for the exit.
There begins what is supposed to be an exciting sequence where a cop grabs the suspicious briefcase, runs through the concourse, across the roadway, throws it into the parking lot where it explodes without seriously injuring anyone. Believable? No.
The bomb tossing cop's partner just happens to spot a car picking up the terrorist and manages to shoot the driver, capturing the other terrorist. Believable in the circumstances? No.
Lt. Commander Jimmy Ramshawe, assistant to the Director of the National Security Agency, is frantic over a call the NSA has intercepted. One call to Damascus. Yeah. Sure.
By page 12, this novel has fallen on its face. It is simply unbelievable. I won't go futher into the plot, but it pits Ravi Rashood, deserter from the British SAS and convert to radical Islam, his (what else would you expect?) ravishingly beautiful terrorist wife Shakira against Admiral Arnold Morgan, former NSA head, confidant of Presidents and his colleagues. Rashood, Morgan and others were interesting characters in earlier books. In "To The Death", they are transparent and unbelievable.
The storyline concerns Rashood's obsession with assinating Morgan. One unbelivable scene follows another. Of course, brilliant Ramshawe is always both a step behind and a step ahead in warning Morgan that an assination plot is afoot, but stubborn old Morgan won't listen.
Ultimately Robinson borrows a big part of the plot from "The Day of the Jackal", which only makes this novel worse than it already was.
Robinson either wrote this in a hurry, didn't do his research, has contempt for his reader's intelligence or all three. Factual errors abound.
For example, the devout Muslim General Rashood is aboard a naval vessel belonging to the Islamic Republic of Iran - where he enjoys a ham and cheese sandwich. Ham on a ship belonging to the Iranian Navy? A supposedly devout and fanatical Muslim eating ham?
On the same ship, Robinson describes the captain as being so knowledgable that "[u]pon the slightest problem with the ship, the crew aways called on the commanding officer, who understood the workings of his ship better than anyone else". Can you imagine any ship's captain who would put up with crew members coming to him to solve their "slightest problem"? Give us all a break, Mr. Robinson.
Like all too many authors these days (Barry Eisler being a particularly egregious example), Robinson tries to fake a knowledge of computers and information technology. Robinson - not for the first time - has Rashood doing a search with Google. He has Rashood "waiting patiently" while a search is carried out. In another instance, he has Google taking nine seconds to return results. Google, of course, is famed for the speed of its searches. A Google search for "Patrick Robinson" returned 245,000 results in 0.27 seconds. Mr. Robinson either doesn't know how to use Google or believes his readers dont'. It appears to be the former since this super sophisticated know-it-all terrorist submits some truly silly search requests.
To enhance the supposed importance of one of the characters, Robinson has him ferried from Washington to Scotland aboard Air Force One, which Robinson correctly says bears another designation when the President is not onboard. Simply unbelievable.
He has one of his protagonists using a Sig Sauer "revolver". As far as I can determine, Sig has never produced a revolver. A 7.62mm rifle with a silencer is featured. While such a suppressor would reduce the noise of firing at the shooter's location, there would still be the crack produced as the supersonic bullet moves through the sound barrier, thus making the use of a silencer worthless in the situation Robinson describes.
All in all, "To The Death" is readable, but you'd probably have to be desperate to read it. I was simply foolish in doing so. I wanted to see if it could get worse than it was - and it did. A great disappointment from Patrick Robinson, whose earlier work I enjoyed.