2007
27.12

Happy Birthday Andy McNab

2007
15.11

[You’ve got to read this in-depth and honest review of Crossfire. It was posted as a comment by visitor Matt, but I thought it deserved its own post.–SixtySix]

Just finished Crossfire; it’s reasonably good fun and certainly the last third whips up the pace and the tension a bit.
I’m going to stray from the point for a little here, though, because I have to say, since the unbelievably atmospheric Dark Winter, McNab’s style seems to have changed so much. I don’t find his books – and this goes for Crossfire too – have the same suspense, atmosphere or descriptive hold on me anymore; and I’ll say this, since I read his first novel in ‘97 and up until Deep Black, I had simply never read a better thriller. I honestly used to feel like I was in a different world reading those books; it was a great escape for me, which I’d never experienced in another writer; he was truly a breath of fresh air.
From Deep Black onwards though, it seems that he’s either changed his style due to pressures from what his publisher perceives as the ‘right’ style of writing / storyline, or that it’s not him writing the books anymore, (or maybe the earlier ones were done by a ghost-writer!). Btw, I know an author who claims to ‘know’ he does use a ghost-writer, but personally I seriously doubt that, for several reasons.
Anyway, for me his last 4 books though just don’t have the intensity, descriptive detail, humour or (effective) unpredictability of the others; moreover the plots seem to stroll about a bit (slightly aimless) and in a way nothing much really seems to happen. I’m thinking in particular of the contrast between Dark Winter, Liberation Day, Firewall and the last four, where these incredibly good 3 previous novels seemed to flow towards some sort of objective / conclusion, with brilliant little bits of humour thrown in. Again, what happened to the little humorous bits??
Well back to Crossfire; certainly the beginning’s good; I’d say far too much time spent on the Iraq bits before the main crux of the plot (the murder of cameraman he’s BGing and the disappearance of his colleague, a journalist – not a plot-spoiler, all there on the dust-jacket!!), and again the action and scene-settings / descriptions were for me just too confusing to visualize. Things certainly get better in London where he meets the odious Yes Man again, after which it’s off on a well-written diversion to Dublin, where we neeearly have a really good stake-out / break-in / recce thing happening (remember how good those used to be, you could almost feel you were there? He’s lost the knack). Then off to Afghanistan, and the narrative gets a bit more like the old McNab again. Again here there’s little of the quirky character-traits of people he encounters that made you feel like you were there in the novels of old; with one exception; his hired driver says ‘maybe’ a lot and that’s quite amusingly handled (maybe…).
A lot of the Afghani section is interesting, but again there seems to be no consistent thread; lots of ‘dropped’ dialogue and narrative, in that stuff is said or mentioned but just seems to fizzle out; encounters with other characters are again not in the same visceral, engaging and realistic vein they used to be (pre-Deep Black).
As the remaining half of the book is effectively spent in Afghanistan, with not an awful lot really happening, I must say, there is some consistency at least from this point onwards. Again, the break-in / rescue scene that he does in most of his books happens but misses a whole dollop of suspense and tension and descriptive content that I thought was so engaging in McNab’s early novels. Do you remember that scene in Crisis Four where he takes a couple of chapters up describing how he breaks into the target’s house and creeps up the stairs with the bow and arrow? Here you get a page’s worth.
Again, later on old characters pop back into the plot clumsily and it all just gets a bit grim. But, from Stone’s inevitable capture to the end of the book, I have to say it’s a pretty consistently good read. The end is particularly satisfying and the last line of the book is good old classic McNab humour again.
Crossfire is slowly working McNab’s novels back into his older, more engaging style; lets hope the next one matches the magic of Firewall, Liberation Day or Dark Winter.
And if anyone knows what’s been going on with the drop in standard of his last few books, please let me know!

[Thanks again for the great review, Matt–I’m sure you’ll get some feedback regarding the drop in quality (I happen to agree with you 100%)–SixtySix]

2007
15.11

Andy & CraigThe Sun writes today: “SAS legend’s bravo to hero”

SAS legend Andy McNab set up an emotional reunion to hand an audio copy of his latest book to a blinded Iraq hero.

McNab, who wrote best-seller Bravo Two Zero before becoming The Sun’s security adviser, met L/Cpl Craig Lundberg while spending two weeks embedded with his unit in Basra.

An early section of his new book Crossfire is based within Craig’s 30-man platoon.

So when he heard the 22-year-old had been blinded by a shrapnel blast, McNab insisted on returning to Liverpudlian Craig’s side.

Doing his bit for our Help For Heroes campaign, he handed over a huge pile of talking books, including his own, and chatted for hours in a Liverpool pub. The pair also raised a pint to a comrade McNab also met, who died in action just weeks later.

For this article, part of The Sun’s ‘Help for Heroes’ campaign, go here

2007
06.11

Crossfire advert

When living in the UK you might come across this cool advert. It’s appearing in magazines and on posters.

It’s a bit small on this picture but it says that if you text MCNAB to 80880 (I’m afraid UK only) you’ll receive Crossfires first chapter. You have a choice of text or audio.

The audio version is introduced by McNab, the narration in “Spoken From The Front” style.

 

Then it also came to my attention (thanx Simon) that Tesco has an awesome promotion stunt: If people purchase Crossfire from Tesco they’ll receive a free CD with the Iraq Ambush audio story, as well as the chance to enter a VERY cool competition:

McNab: “I have teamed up with Tesco to bring you the best competition this side of Basra. You could win signed copy of all of my books, plus the chance for you and a friend to win a SAS-themed experience which includes training from ex-army/Special Forces instructors in survival skills, camouflage, unarmed combat and live weapons handling.”

As far as I know this offer applies only in store, I haven’t found it online. Correct me if I’m wrong. My information doesn’t go as far as knowing what you have to do to win, but it seems an awesome experience. We’d love to hear from the winner in time. If there’s a consolation prize to just stand on the sideline and watch I’d probably join the competition, I’ve just seen Bob Spour’s video SAS Fight Secrets (register or log in to see that video, to confirm you’re over 18. I wonder why) and after seeing that I can fairly say I’m not really interested in the actual training with ex-SF instructors! 😉

2007
02.11

Anyone finished the new Nick Stone novel??

We love to hear what you think!

2007
21.10

CrossfireTransworld has published the first chapter of “at his electrifying, unputdownable best” Andy McNab’s latest Nick Stone adventure Crossfire. We ‘publish’ it here too as an appetizer, with only a few weeks to go… Enjoy!

1

Tuesday, 27 February 2007
0015 hrs
North-west of Basra

The noise and heat, gloom and sheer fucking claustrophobia in the back of the Warrior were oppressive enough, but now the armour was suddenly clanging three times a second like the world’s strongest madman was using it for sledgehammer practice. We were taking rounds. It could only mean we were closing in on target.

The engine roared and the tracks screeched over the rock.

The front end dipped hard.

‘Fuck!’ the Scouse driver screamed over the radio net, as he stood on the anchors. ‘There’s a fuck’n’ bastard tank!’

The commander yelled back so loud I had to lift the PRR pad from my ear. ‘Go right, you cunt – you’ll hit the fucker!’ Until a few years ago, the only way troops could communicate with each other was by shouting or hand signals, but every man and his dog now wore a personal role radio. It had revolutionized the infantry. Just four inches by six, with a headset consisting of an ear pad, Velcro strap and little boom mike, PRR acted effectively as a secure chat net between troops.

The Challenger’s thundering growl had come from our left. The tracks squealed and we gripped whatever we could get hold of to stop ourselves being flung from our seats. We took more small-arms fire into the hull, and then there was a much louder bang two feet away from my shoulder.

‘RPG!’

Rocket-propelled grenades could punch holes in concrete walls. I knew it would just bounce off the skirt of bar armour surrounding us, but I still felt like I was trapped in a locked safe while people on the outside were fucking about with blowtorches and gelignite.

It wasn’t simply that I couldn’t see what was happening. It was having no control that bothered me. I was at the mercy of the driver, the gunner, and the commander in the turret. He was a platoon sergeant called Rhett or Red – I didn’t catch it when we met, and then we got past the point where I could ask again.

Our Warrior was part of the battle group’s recce platoon. Dom, Pete and I were embedded. ‘Entombed, more like,’ Pete said. He’d been a tankie himself once upon a time, and even he didn’t like the lid coming down. We were jammed shoulder to shoulder in the eerie red glow of the night-lights. Rhett’s scuffed and dusty desert boots were level with my face. The gunner was up there on his left, frantically feeding rounds into the 30mm cannon.

The wagon took one final hard right and came to a jarring, gut-wrenching halt. The stern reared up under the momentum, then crashed down like a breaking wave.

‘Dismount! Dismount!’

Rhett’s shout was drowned by the cannon kicking off above us.

Dom got a punch from one of the Kingsmen and hit the button above his head. The rear-door hydraulics whined. I could see stars, hear the roar of gunfire and heavy machinery.

The four recce guys tumbled out into the inky blackness. Pete shoved a hand over his lens and we followed.

My Timberlands slid and twisted on the rubble as I ducked down against the bar armour, gulping fresh but dust-laden air. Oil wells blazed out of control on the horizon. Gases and crude were being forced out of the ground under phenomenal pressure, shooting flames a hundred feet into the air.

The night was filled with the thunder of 30mm cannon kicking off across the dried-up wadi bed that separated us from our target – the buildings no more than a hundred away. It had prevented the drivers going right up to the front doors.

I was hungry for more air. My nostrils filled with sand, but I didn’t care. I had my feet on the ground and I was in control of them. And, thanks to the mortar platoon, I could see what was happening. Their 81mm tubes had filled the sky with illume. Balls of blazing magnesium hung in the air above the town before beginning their descent, casting shadows left and right as they swung under their parachutes, silhouetting the two massive Challengers rumbling left and right of us.

Bright muzzle flashes from four or five AKs sparked up from the line of houses that edged the built-up area.

Our gunner switched from the 30mm Rarden cannon to the 7.62mm Hughes Helicopter Chain Gun to dish out a different edition of the same good news.

Two Warriors lurched to a halt alongside us, throwing up a plume of dust. My nose was totally clogged now. Guys spilled out of the back doors with bayonets fixed.

Pete adjusted the oversized Batman utility belt round his waist where he stuffed his lenses and shit, and raised his infrared camera to his face. He was like a kid in a sweetshop as the mass of armour surrounding the town spewed infantry into the sand.

Dom got ready to do his Jeremy Bowen bit to camera. He rehearsed a few soundbites to himself as Pete sorted the sound check.

‘The Kingsmen of the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment are halfway through their six-month tour. They have been shot at twenty-four/seven by small arms, RPGs and mortars, but ask any one of them and they’ll tell you it’s what they signed up to do.’

Tonight they were about to kick the shit out of the insurgents who were within spitting distance of taking over Al Gurnan and starting to claim the ground as their own. They had to be broken. An insurgent stronghold soon became another link in the supply chain from Iran, just ten clicks away.

The Kingsmen’s mission was to do the breaking, and ours was to report it. Dom talked, Pete filmed him, and I had to make sure the two didn’t get shot, snatched, or run over by a set of tracks sent screaming across the desert by a bunch of jabbering Scousers.

It wasn’t easy. When Dom started playing newsman, he seemed to think there was a magic six-foot forcefield standing between him and any incoming fire. Sometimes he thought he didn’t even need to wear a helmet. But in this war the enemy didn’t give a shit whether you were a journalist or a soldier. If you were a foreigner they wanted you out, preferably in a body-bag. If they could get you alive, so much the better: you’d be the new star of The Al Jazeera Show, and all you could do was hope your next appearance wouldn’t end with them slicing off your head online.

The chain gun ceased fire. The Kingsmen swarmed down into the wadi.

Dom made to follow, but I grabbed him and pulled him on to his knees. Another flurry of illume kicked off over the town and the cannon opened up again. I had to scream into his ear: ‘They said not to go forward until they call us! Wait. Let them get on with it.’

The Kingsmen vanished for a few seconds in the dead ground of the riverbed, before reappearing on the far bank, screaming and shouting all sorts of Scouse shit they probably didn’t even understand themselves.

They kicked their way through a series of old wooden doors and into whatever chaos lay the other side.