5 out of 5 stars: Helldiver? Hell yes. Intelligent intel and action - the best yet from Chris Allen's INTREPID.

One of the things I love most about Chris Allen’s writing is this; he isn’t content to stay in one gear, with a main character and peripherals who remain static, content with a shoot-em up status quo. It would be easy for Alex Morgan and the rest of the INTREPID team to have the same adventures in each new book, but Allen takes them further each time, investigating uncomfortable social topics whilst delivering bang-on Bond worthy thrills, spills, and spook-filled travails.

In HELLDIVER, possibly his tightest plotted effort yet, Morgan and his now familiar offsider Elizabeth Reigns are thrown into the immense riches and pleasure state of the oligarchs, Russia’s new world order. Wielding more power than Rasputin and Stalin combined, Morgan learns that his new enemies ‘live by the sword’, and he quickly sees “that the old ways were never really old at all: they were a constantly evolving beast that never aged, never weakened, never relented”. Fighting time, internal enemies and exterior brute force, Morgan has to call on all his wit, tenacity and warrior skills to survive - and save those he cares for.

I am a massive Len Deighton fan, and to me, there is quite a bit of Deighton’s wry deftness in Allen’s writing. Much like Deighton and other champions of the classic spy thriller, such as le Carré and Ludlum, Allen’s ability to connect with his audience comes not only from the action scenes but from the ‘inbetweeners’ - the subtle throwaway lines. Watch out for the last few pages, because if, like me, you are a bit of a war geek, you will also be off to Vegas at the mention of Jane’s (this does not impact on the plot, and will make sense. Promise).

The verdict of Alex Morgan’s latest outing? Majorly good derring-do, from a man who has done both the derring AND the do - and it shows. Helldiver? Hell yes.
— By Kate Stone Matheson on December 22, 2015
 

4 out of 5 stars: AVENGER is the third book in the Alex Morgan, INTREPID series of thriller, action style novels. Whilst the earlier books (HUNTER and DEFENDER), were enormously enjoyable entrants in those categories, this third book has more to offer again.

Alex Morgan is an ex-soldier, now black ops spy for Interpol’s INTREPID (Intelligence, Recovery, Protection and Infiltration Division). He’s been at this for quite a while now, and frankly, he’s burning out in one hell of a hurry. Despite assurances that there’s a break from active service after his current assignment, he’s immediately sent into battle against a shadowy villain. Chinese triads, corrupt cops and the Russian mafia and a woman known as The Night Witch are deeply involved in a very nasty form of sexual slavery. In particular, this woman is clever, very dangerous and utterly ruthless. And Morgan is also paired with new agent Elizabeth Reigns who turns out to be a lot more competent than he gave her credit for.

Now Morgan might be an all-action hero type, but there’s something endearingly real about him at the same time. All the way through AVENGER he’s a bit knackered. He’s sick of the job, sick of the threat, sick about losing a good friend and frazzled. Even when in extreme circumstances, where his physical prowess is called upon he’s fighting the enemy as much as he’s fighting with himself.

In an interesting twist there’s nearly as much emphasis on the Night Witch in this book. Her background, the sex slave business, and her methods are explored, as is the cunning plan she deploys to make identification and capture difficult. All of which requires Morgan to get inside her head, and her organisation to break the case.

Given the emphasis on character here, plot doesn’t suffer and it’s not all crash / bang / rush. There’s some clever aspects to the way that Morgan and Reigns identify this woman, and track her location down. Getting inside her organisation is elegantly done, and quite feasible. Even the idea that her henchmen are more brawn than brains works well.

But it comes back to Morgan really, and there’s always been a strong sense of validity about him. He’s an all action hero with a human side, and that angle is what’s particularly appealing about AVENGER. It’s a relief to realise that a hero can get sick of the whole thing, and they, like the rest of us, sometimes just want a good lie down.
— By Karen on March 5, 2015
 

5 out of 5 stars: "The aftertaste of blood and gunmetal makes it clear these books are written by a real soldier. "

Chris Allen may be relatively new to the role of novels, but he has a head start on many of his colleagues. According to his bio, `Chris Allen writes escapist action thrillers for realists, having seen and done it all. Serving in three Commonwealth armies across two decades and four continents, one of the paratrooping elite, Chris saw the world from under a billowing parachute, often by night, entering foreign countries with the usual passport-stamping obligations eschewed. Exiting military life with injuries, Chris transitioned into humanitarian aid work during the East Timorese emergency, served with three major law enforcement agencies in Australia, protected Sydney’s most iconic landmark in the wake of 9-11 and between 2008 & 2012 was the Sheriff of New South Wales, one of the oldest law enforcement appointments in the land. The Sword of Interpol, Chris’s creative literary brainchild, Intrepid, is a culmination of his military and law enforcement insider experience. Intrepid is the Intelligence, Recovery, Protection and Infiltration Division: the razor-sharp, ultra-secret, black ops division of INTERPOL, established to operate across the world, regardless of borders, politics or race - a new organization with a global function to protect human rights.’

This is the second book in the Intrepid series and reading it makes you want to immediately begin reading Book I -not that you feel out in the cold unless you have input of Book I because book II can easily stand on its own. But the characters Alex Morgan -policeman, soldier and spy for Intrepid - and the major and minor roles in this tale of intrigue hunting down Serbian war criminals involved in an assassination attempt, a kidnapping, etc - are well sculpted yet somehow different from other thriller writer’s characters. Alex Morgan, as devised by Chris Allen is `a man of integrity, courage, he’s dependable, determined, and fiercely loyal. That said, after all he’s seen, Morgan is familiar with the feeling of melancholy, doesn’t mind a pint of Guinness or a glass of Scotch, and his taste in music is eclectic - to say the least.’

HUNTER is a fast read because it captures our attention from page one, flows through both brief and lengthy chapters that match the pace of the story and ends with a satisfying conclusion.
— By Grady Harp on July 23, 2013
 

4 out of 5 stars: "Military know-how and a genuine good read for fans of the genre."

If you are a die-hard Ian Fleming fan, then Chris Allen’s Intrepid series may be what you’re looking for –think of it as James Bond has had a revamp. Gone is the misogynist protagonist, and in Bonds place is a new hero – Alex Morgan. Morgan works for a secret agent branch of Interpol, he is tough but fallible, and is a character that I think readers will become invested in as they read the future books.

What gives the Intrepid series kudos is the detail. This has obviously been helped by Allen’s extensive experience in the military, federal police and aid work. It’s this experience that gives the book an authenticity that’s hard to attain by research alone. The story feels grounded in reality –something you don’t usually find in the Action Adventure/Spy Thriller genre.

This solid foundation doesn’t detract from the action –far from it. We are taken on a ride, with Alex Morgan, through the seedy world of gun trafficking in Africa, to corruption in the higher echelons of government agencies in England and then onto a climatic finish in the streets (and harbour) of Sydney, Australia. Allen has given us a protagonist who “keeps the bastards honest”, a character you can barrack for, but he has also delivered on international intrigue, a spy who is ruggedly good- looking (always a bonus), a girl (yes, there is a little romance), action, military know-how and a genuine good read for fans of the genre.
— By Bookgirl on October 29, 2014