Books I Read – The Cobra – Hisses but not enough Venom

Frederick Forsyth is a well respected fiction novel author amongst a generation of fiction lovers. His books like The Day of the Jackal and Odess File have been read and appreciated by millions. A new book from the master storyteller is keenly awaited. His latest is The Cobra.

However, The Cobra does not come anywhere near the bestsellers I mentioned above. The intensity is not the same, however must say the premise of the story is very interesting and reflects the headlines of the world.

The premise is that the President of USA decides to go all out against the Cocaine trade of the Colombian Cartel and gives full resources, money and man power to ‘Cobra’, who is a retired CIA officer Paul Devereux. Cobra takes up the task and assembles a team of agents like him including Cal Dexter from Forsyth’s earlier novel Avenger. He assembles his private army, navy and even an air force with communication satellites at his disposal and support of American and British leaders and forces, he first plans and then takes on the Colombian Cocaine Cartel by targeting the transport and distribution methods of the cartel via land, sea and air.

The story is about ‘The Cobra’ however it follows Cal Dexter more. There is not much character development and the story telling is narrative and has very less dialogues or interactions. The drug lord’s character is also not powerfully developed. It is like that the author is informing us of various things happening and we just flow with all the information he provides. From Jungles of Colombia to Landing ports of Rotterdam and Hamburg and West African hellhole countries like Guinnea Bissau to Shipyards of India to Mafia land of Italy and from Turkish thugs to British Agencies to Dutch rogues to Spanish authorities to Mexican gang lords the story moves all around the world swiftly and sometimes provides more information then you can handle. Some of the information seems to be inspired from world headlines while some them is well, fiction.

The novel does give real insight into the world of cocaine production, illegal transportation and distribution and how it reaches the snorting end user. There is sufficient amount of research done by the author and the kind of detailing he provides is matchless. The conclusion to the book is bit anti-climactic and does have minor twists. However the novel never rises above the mediocre and is certainly not the best work by the author. The author does seem to be losing grip on his writing as well and the plot development, character back stories, human emotional quotient is bit missing here. If broadly classified then its a simple good old America and Western powers Vs. bad third world countries story.

I would recommend only die-hard Fredrick Forsyth fans to read it. I know I would have still read it even if I had read this review earlier.

My Ratings: 5.5/10 Cobra hisses but does not have much venom

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