The Judas Gate Paperback – Large Print, Dec 6 2011
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'Open a Jack Higgins novel and you'll encounter a master craftsman at the peak of his powers ! first-rate tales of intrigue, suspense and full-on action.' Sunday Express 'Higgins is a master of his craft.' Daily Telegraph 'A thriller writer in a class of his own.' Financial Times 'The master craftsman of good, clean adventure.' Daily Mail --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Since The Eagle Has Landed one of the biggest-selling thrillers of all time every novel Jack Higgins has written has become an international bestseller. He has had simultaneous number-one bestsellers in hardcover and paperback, and many of his books have been made into successful movies, including The Eagle Has Landed, To Catch a King, On Dangerous Ground, Eye of the Storm, and Thunder Point. He has degrees in sociology, social psychology, and economics from the University of London, and a doctorate in media from Leeds Metropolitan University. A fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and an expert scuba diver and marksman, Higgins lives in Jersey on the Channel Islands.
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Top Customer Reviews
This sets off a hunt by Sean Dillon (the wise cracking survivor of The Troubles who now works for the British) and Daniel Holley (another Irishman who once tried to assassinate Dillon in a novel I have not read but who is now an ally). The plot is a bit of travelogue between hot spots as the quarry is tracked down with countless scores settled by both sides. It has been a long time since I read a Higgins/Dillon novel as I had been turned off by his superhero survival skills. This was a decent one to return to as it had good pace and an intriguing premise. Also the door was left open to the return of potentially two captivating villains who are more engaging than dusty Dillon.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Would probably have enjoyed it more if I had read earlier books in the Sean Dillon series, but that is no reason not to read this fine work. There were just times, early on, as characters were being introduced, that I sensed I was missing something in their relationships and interactions, references to earlier adventures, challenges and books.
Frankly, reading this book, its quality, suspense and mystery, has convinced me to go back and start at the very beginning of the series.
What's this book about? Supposed good guys helping the definitely bad guys kill Allied soldiers (good guys), Dillon's tracking them down with suspense, surprises,twists and turns on every page.
Even if this is your first Higgins/Dillon book, go for it. You won't regret it!!!
Ambivalence is my general feeling about Jack Higgins' latest novel Judas Gate. It was not what I expected from the several book synopses that I read. I was thinking this would be about a manhunt in Afghanistan or the surrounding region for the British turncoat known a Shamrock. Instead, it was a drawn out story about the legacy of the Irish "Troubles". Most of the usual Higgins characters were involved as they plotted and discussed the who, what and where of Shamrock. Included was the normal cast of Muslim terrorists but missing was the action. Much of Higgins' tale was verbal interaction between the cast of characters. Now don't get me wrong, there were some action scenes but they were few and far between with lots of characters talking, planning, and discussing a variety of issues. All in all this was more of a cerebral thriller: Lots of mental gymnastics with short spurts of physical action.
The plot was an interesting one involving the voice of a turncoat British agent heard on a dead American's hot mike after the ambush of 12 American Rangers and responding British helicopter medical team. All were killed. The hot mike tape was analyzed and the findings sent to British Intelligence for review and action. Sean Dillon is summoned and put on the case to find the traitor. From there, the story very slowly unfolds.
Again, The Judas Gate is more about thinking than doing, searching than finding. Thus, my ambivalence about this novel. I was expecting something else as the thesis was a very good one. Nevertheless, I did enjoy the story but to a lesser extent. I've read other Higgins novels and have come to the conclusion that this is just the way he writes: Not quite totally cerebral like John Le Carre, and most definitely not in the action genre of Vince Flynn--an interesting in between. I pound on this to make sure new Higgins readers knows what they are going to get. Still, overall I did enjoy The Judas Gate.
Character development was good. Jack Higgins does a more than adequate job of developing his characters. This helped save this novel.
No gratuitous language, sex, or violence. Mainly dialog interaction between the main players.
Mediocre recommend. Best to wait for the paperback or get the hardback from your local library. Again, Not an action thriller but more of a cerebral action read.
"The Judas Gate" is a happy return to form. OK, it is still not among his best, but it is much better than his recent efforts. The action was non stop and the double crosses and bouncing around the globe were a lot of fun. It's interesting that while the US President in recent Dillon novels had a name (Jake Cazalet), the current president is referred to as.... wait for it... the President :) I don't think this is a slap but a way to prevent the Dillon timeline from being hemmed in.
It was interesting that Dillon's girlfriend Monica Starling is mentioned, she does not appear this book. To be honest, given the storyline, trying to fit her in this one would not have worked. It's nice he has a girlfriend, but I still wish Hannah Bernstein hadn't been killed off though.
Poor Dillon doesn't seem to have much luck with women on the whole. It seems that recent Dillon novels end with a very rich, and very disturbed woman (like Kate Rashid and now Jean Taylor) with a blood oath against him. Maybe his next book will start with Dillon coming home to Stable Mews and Monica throwing a pot at him saying "Where have you been!?"
Jack Higgins is in his 80's now. While he could probably write Dillon novels until he drops, I wish he would go back and do another historical fiction based novel. He left the ending of his sequel to "The Eagle Has Landed" ("The Eagle Has Flown") open to possibly more adventures with Kurt Steiner Liam Devlin. Those were two of his best creations and I would love to see those old friends again..
For those who know Higgins primarily through his later works, give titles like the "Eagle" above and "Storm Warning" a try. You will be pleasantly surprised!
Judas Gate, by Jack Higgins, is one of the dullest, so-called action books, I have read. What began as an intriguing, action-filled series staring Sean Dillon has deteriorated into little more than a tale of tedious plotting, endless talking, and almost constant drinking among characters who have lost their individuality. I wonder how the special unit headed by Ferguson can get anything right with all they drinking they do. I also wonder how Shamrock, the Irish-born villain, can plot anything with his constant drinking. Maybe it's the Irish way, according to Higgins; if so, it doesn't paint a very positive portrait of a warm and loving people.
There is no sense of urgency in what happens in the story. We learn that a dying soldier had accidentally recorded an Irish-speaking commander of a Taliban unit in Afghanistan that had attacked and killed a dozen US. Army Rangers and members of a British medical team, in an ambush. The chase is on, of course, to find that apparent traitor who calls himself Shamrock. We also hear of a mysterious Preacher, the Al Qaeda leader in London, who somehow manages to remain safe as an academic, despite his constantly using a cell phone to contact those he controls, including Shamrock; surely, MI5 should have intercepted his calls, especially with key word recognition programs. Along the way, we hear a lot about the Troubles and their aftermath in Ireland, yet see little of the consequences of that often brutal and tragic period in Irish history. We also hear about the fighting in Afghanistan, but most of the action is off stage; all we get is a lot of talking about it. What was promoted as a revenge novel in which, I imagined, Sean Dillon would go off to Afghanistan and find and destroy Shamrock--or bring him back to the U. K. for trial--became a big disappointment.
Another major issue I have with the novel is the lack of character development through individual portraits. I had to read the first two hundred pages twice to get any sense of each character. They sound alike, use similar phrasing, and are little more than cardboard cutouts, including the villain, Shamrock, as well as secondary characters Higgins introduces. The principals, such as Sean Dillon, General Ferguson, Daniel Holley, and Harry Miller--who should stand out as being sharply etched images--sound alike; with my eyes closed, I could not tell them apart. Even Harry and Billy Salter have lost their individuality as street thugs and are now little more than shallow images of themselves. Indeed, Billy used to be quick-tempered, "muscle" for Harry; in this book, he plays a minor role. In fact, he is even taken out of a critical mission at the end, in the Khufra Marshes of Algeria, by Ferguson (Higgins), after Billy was shot at near point-blank-range in the chest; while saved by a chest protector, he was deemed too weak to go after Shamrock.
What little action is there, occurs sporadically, and doesn't feel or sound believable. We have an amazing shot by Dillon, at dawn, in a pouring rain, off-balance, and at some distance in misty marshes, as he wounds Shamrock, but even that is contrived. We also have an attack on Ferguson in Pakistan, which is also artificial. That attack raises the question of why Ferguson would even go on such a mission; he must be in his 70s by now, and retired. When he does appear, Ferguson plays a minor role in what happens. Even Roper, the highly skilled communications expert and researcher employed by Ferguson, is just another name; we know nothing about how or why he is in the chair and how he manages to thrive on a few hours of sleep. I also wonder how he manages to do his critical work with all the alcohol he drinks. Many of the character details were introduced in previous books; the reader who is new to Higgins needs some of the background details, otherwise he will be completely lost in this novel.
Higgins also seems to have a problem with women. He killed off Hannah Bernstein, an effective member of Ferguson's unit, in an earlier novel; Dillon's lady friend, Monica Starling, is mentioned, but only in passing, being shipped off by Higgins to Harvard; and Shamrock's mother becomes an avenging angel. It is as though Higgins doesn't know what to with his women; so he figuratively get rids of them. As a cheat, Higgins opens the door to a sequel with Shamrock's mother predictably telling Dillon, after her son's funeral service, that she is going to avenge her son's death. This is the same device Higgins used with Kate Rashid in early adventures with Sean Dillon. We know what will happen to Shamrock's mother.
Finally, Higgins irritatingly uses a variation of "and he did," when a characters asks to be told about an event in the story. Rarely do two characters ever share information directly. And, of course, to make a character sound Irish, we have several "Old sods" or Old souls."
The edginess of a taut thriller is is gone in Judas Gate. I have read all of Jack Higgins' work from when he wrote as Harry Patterson through James Graham to today; the Judas Gate is the biggest disappointment so far. I think it is time for Higgins to retire Sean Dillon, as he did with Liam Devlin, and bring in new blood as the driving force in action thrillers, not merely part of more intellectual exercises.