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The Sixteen - John Urwin

Well, I asked for this book and what can I say? – I was always taught that if you can’t say anything nice, it’s better to say nothing at all. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work for a book review.

As a semi-entertaining read, this one almost hits the spot and apart from a few glaring spelling and grammatical errors is quite readable. The art of being a fiction writer is to get the reader to suspend all belief as they enter your world. To a large extent this book does that. But believe me, it’s so far fetched you have to suspend all belief in almost everything.

However, this book doesn’t claim to be a work of fiction, but a biography: and I find that a little disturbing.

Without revealing the story too much, for some reason a young guy doing national service in the Royal Pioneer Corps is picked for special operations type work and is whisked away on covert and deniable operations with the other members of this mysterious group called The Sixteen. This whisking away all occurs whilst he’s with the RPC, but nobody ever questions it and it all happens in a very well planned, not to say, convenient, manner.

The author claims that he was put under some sort of influence (hypnosis?) and had something called the “machine” installed in his mind which in turn made him a deadly, dispassionate, killing machine in his own right. Strangely, whilst reading this particular chapter I kept hearing the theme music from “The Champions” TV series.

For a novice joining an established team, he certainly seems to be full of himself and coming up with all the best ideas. Of course, he claims that the others were only letting him do this in order to enhance his training, build his confidence and bring him up to speed. What this guy can do with a few pieces of rope, and not forgetting his fantastic secret weapon, the ‘sash’, is unbelievable. Oddly enough, he never seems to contemplate that bullets can do him a lot of damage with all of his close quarters fighting methods.

But the most surprising thing, after all of this extensive (and no doubt expensive) training, and all of this experience, he didn’t ever sign up and left the army after his two years national service were over. He was such an asset, he was simply allowed to walk away.

I must commend the author for having a first class imagination. I haven’t read anything quite like this since as a teenager I read the works of T Lobsang Rampa, who claimed his body hosted the spirit of a Tibetan monk. - He was eventually exposed as being a plumber from Plympton, called Cyril Hoskin.

As I say, an escapist read, with a few (large-ish) holes in the plot.

2 Anchors, as long as you are prepared read it as fiction.
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