“Nash has produced a surprising, entertaining tale of pulp intrigue that will leave readers clamoring for more.”
THE VENGEANCE OF BEN-BALLA
The First in the Narvik/Rubino Series
Brazenhead (375 pp.)
August 8, 2011
Nash’s debut novel is a straight-forward pulpy tale of revenge and espionage set in Southwest Florida. Dexter Rubino, a once-great Secret Service agent, has retired to a meager pension and a position with Basalt Security, a company catering to the retired presidents who vacation in the islands off the southwest coast of Florida. Steelworker Matt Narvik spent his life savings to retire in the same area. Days before Christmas 2009, Rubino is presented with a mysterious proposition—millions of dollars to arrest Philippe Ben-Balla, an Iraqi arms dealer who plans to assassinate President George H.W. Bush, the man he holds responsible for the killing of his sons in the first Gulf War by Saddam Hussein. This information unravels in a series of events that moves forward at a lightning-quick pace to entertaining results. Part of the joy of the novel comes in its economy; it’s sparse, with the lines between good and evil blurring very little. Rubino is the good archetype, Ben-Balla is bad and Narvik is the innocent man, somewhat pathetic but lovable, caught in the middle of the web of violence. Character development is inserted sparingly so as not to detract from the action. With this fast-paced approach, Nash reels readers in from the first page and keeps his numerous characters active and integral to the plot. Perhaps a bit too much attention is spent on the tactical side of things and to the sailing terminology that takes up pages of space. But, otherwise, the novel is a nearly pitch-perfect throwback to simple pulp fiction. Nash plants the seeds of a second adventure, somewhat clumsily, at the end of the story, something he has earned by creating an entertaining world full of vibrant characters that deserves to be seen by a wide audience. The book puts all the intrigue and suspense of a Bond film into a sleek, no-nonsense package. Nash has produced a surprising, entertaining tale of pulp intrigue that will leave readers clamoring for more.
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