Alex Derksen is an intrepid reporter who finds himself bang in the middle of the crosshairs of an ugly duel between the South African cops, and hoodlums of the illegal Zama-Zamas illegal mining syndicate. Breathless running and dodging, bruises and scratches, a dead constable, and a bullet lodged in his Kevlar vest later, Alex is unbelievably lucky to find himself alive, let alone in one untampered piece. However, curiosity gets the better of him and bests his good luck, when he gets a midnight call, while convalescing in a motel. The caller identifying himself only and imaginatively as “Gadhafi” lures Alex to a shady pub, promising a wealth of information on the Zama-Zamas cartel. A hastily drunk beer is not the only disappointment greeting the report as within the blink of an eye Alex finds himself abducted.
The only individuals capable of rescuing Alex from his predicament are two women, both having a bit of history with Alex. Ranna Abramson, a fighting fit, tall lanky photographer and Alex’s lover, with a gruesome past of her own, has for some unfathomable reason disappeared like the night from Alex’s life. Sarah, a geek of the highest degree and a wizard with anything remotely resembling an automobile, had a brief dalliance with Alex when he was torn apart by the disappearance of Ranna. When Sarah succeeds in tracking down Ranna in a small cubby hole bang in the middle of a claustrophobic environ in the teeming metropolis that is Mumbai, both women know that there has arrived a point of no return. Poles apart in both their attitude and outlook, the only factor that unites the duo is a raging purpose and relentless intent to save Alex from the clutches of his kidnapper.
Ghosts that were thought to have been exorcised in the past come with renewed fury to haunt Ranna and Sarah as they go about the most dangerous task they have ever attempted until now in their lives. Their enemy is not just unseen, but also seemingly unpredictable and invincible. Will the courageous duo succeed in their mission? Or has Alex tempted his fate one time more than what was acceptable? Irma Venter in “Man Down”, which is the second book in her “Rogue” series, (“Hard Rain” being the first), once again puts her main protagonists, the romantic duo that is Alex and Ranna into a bind. However, the book is more of a Sarah-Ranna combo than Alex. Alex’s angels perhaps!
Unlike a gripping tome by Tom Clancy where the cast of characters exceed the stars in any Galaxy, Irma Venter’s book is an exercise in thrilling simplicity. There are protagonists and there are antagonists. They combat each other both savagely as well as subtly. “Man Down” is more “Die Hard” than an “Inception” or “Minority Report.” There is absolutely no tedium whatsoever as the plot races through in a crisp and tight fashion. There is a judicious blend of wit and vitriol. The action sequences are taut, yet never overboard. There is not a moment that is neither dull nor vapid in the book.
“Man Down” – a feast for thriller aficionados!