Torchlight - Robert Louis Stevenson III (1997)

For those who like thrillers, and given the success of 24, movies too numerous to mention, and the books of Ludlum, Grisham et al, there are a lot of folks who do, Torchlight is probably going to be a pretty entertaining read. For the rest of us, it doesn't have a whole lot to recommend it. Not that it's bad, mind you, just that it's not particularly good. It is formulaic almost to the point of parody, in fact, and executed in a workmanlike but uninspired fashion.

The plot involves our heroes, who are quite naturally ex-elite forces men, Navy SEALS in this case. They are experts in cold-water wreck diving, and are hired by a bad guy, in this case an arms dealer whose client lists reads like a Who's Who of Enemies of Democracy: Noriega, Saddam (with a few moderately prescient comments about that guy's character and plans), Afghan terrorists and so on. The bad guy has an adopted daughter, naturally she's beautiful and naturally one of our SEALS falls in love with her. The bad guy wants to recover money from a wreck in order to finance a deal to sell Russian nukes to Iraq. The good guys are undercover to scotch the deal with the help of the daughter. Things go to hell on the private yacht and lots of people get shot, stabbed and blown up. The good guys all escape.

As I say, it's not bad for what it is, just not exceptional. Admittedly it would be hard to live up to the standard set by his ancestor, Robert Louis Stevenson, and the book is not without merit, but unless you are a fan of thrillers or scuba diving, the book is unlikely to move you.

Overall Grade: C

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