Sentinel by Matthew Dunn (William Morrow, August 2012)-When Sentinel opens, a Russian undercover operative for MI6 makes his way through a dense, sleet pounded forest to send a message saying only “He has betrayed us and wants to go to war.” When Will Cochrane infiltrates the remote Rybachy base in order to locate the submarine captain, codenamed “Svelte”, Will finds him in his quarters, mortally injured, and with his dying breath, Svelte names the man responsible for his attack. He also tells Will that only Sentinel can stop him.
Tensions between America and Russia are the highest they’ve ever been sine the Cold War, and any action seen as aggressive can set off a massive, and deadly spark. Unfortunately, the recent capture of some Russian sleeper agents and retaliatory capture of some of our spies by the Russians revealed some collective lies that were never supposed to see the light of day. Obviously, this didn’t help our relationship with Russia, and things are very nearly at the breaking point. Will Cochrane is one of MI6’s most skilled field agents, and the CIA wants him to find Sentinel and capture the man that killed Svelte and is determined to bring American and Russia to war. Sentinel was a former SAS officer and was eventually given secret MI6 training and sent to Russia to cause damage to the KGB. He was betrayed, captured at a safe house, and tortured him for six years until Russia granted him a sort of amnesty and returned him to MI6. He never divulged any secrets during that time. Sentinel’s intelligence comes from ten agents, and they are being murdered one by one. Will is tasked with killing the traitor, known as Razin, and he’ll need Sentinel’s help. Luckily, Will has plenty of skills to help him with the grueling task ahead.
Will is a graduate of the Spartan Program, a brutal twelve month training course full of super extreme mental and physical tests. Until now, Will thought he was the only Spartan, but he soon finds out that’s not the case. When he meets the man called Sentinel, Will is struck by the man’s sadness, even under his stoic demeanor. Will is no stranger to regret, and has always known he would never lead a normal life, with a family and everything else that comes with it, and he sees what he perceives as similar regret in Sentinel. Eventually a trust is built between them, but unfortunately, as good as Will and Sentinel are, Razin always seems one step ahead.
Sentinel is the first novel I’ve read by former MI6 officer Matthew Dunn, and is his second novel to feature Will Cochrane, after Spycatcher. Every now and then, I really enjoy a good espionage/spy thriller, and if you do too, then this series will probably appeal to you. There’s enough spy jargon to satisfy even the most discerning spy fan and so many twists and turns that you’ll be in danger of whiplash. Will Cochrane is a capable and strong agent, but he’s not infallible, in fact, he and Sentinel come thisclose to capturing Razin more than a few times and barely escape death themselves. This got a tad frustrating at times, but truthfully, it was probably closer to actuality than the hero or heroes capturing the bad guy right out of the box. Razin is a formidable foe and his willingness to kill at all costs is terrifying, as his is end goal. Dunn keeps the pace frenzied throughout and there was a twist that I actually didn’t see coming. Sentinel was a fun diversion through and through, and I’ll look forward to more of Will Cochrane’s adventures.