The Night of Knives - Jon Evans - 29/02/08

In this scarily plausible thriller set in the heart of Africa, kidnap in the Congo is just a smokescreen for a devastating conspiracy...

The son of an ex-pat Rhodesian father and Canadian mother, IT consultant Jon Evans has become the master of the high tech, high concept and high adrenalin thriller.

He won the Crime Writers' Association debut dagger for his first novel, Trail of the Dead, and each new book since has received positive reviews and won new admirers.

In The Night of Knives, we meet Veronica Kelly who has come to Africa for a fresh start. Still reeling from her divorce, she is grateful when a handsome stranger invites her on an expedition to visit gorillas in Uganda's wild Impenetrable Forest.

But the trip goes desperately wrong when the group of tourists are captured by brutal gunmen, marched into the lawless Congo and held for ransom.

Then one tourist is murdered ... and then another.

Terrified and appalled, they do what they are told, little realising that their abduction is only the first move in a deadly strategic game that could twist global politics and consume entire nations ...

Full of pace and high drama in a world made more open and dangerous by modern technology, Evans's plots positively teem with well-drawn characters and terse, well-controlled dialogue. There are plenty of twists and turns and the non-stop action is guaranteed to leave readers breathless.

The only reservation about Evans's thrillers is his use of the present tense which may be designed to give the story more impact and immediacy but seems a pointless writing device that jars with the action and makes reading unnecessarily laboured.

But if you can overcome the tense, and concentrate on the tension, there's no doubt that Evans's book are always 'killer thrillers'...

(Hodder&Stoughton, hardback, 19.99)