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April 4, 2022

Trigger Point by Tony Roth ~ a Review

by Donna Huber

I try not to read similar books back to back as I can't help compare them. But sometimes it can't be helped as review copies come up. That is how I came to read Trigger Point a Cold War-era spy novel right after reading the fantastic Cold War-era spy thriller The Bucharest Dossier. And while I knew that whatever I read after that novel would probably pale in comparison, I still held out hope that Trigger Point would be an interesting and enjoyable spy novel set in Central America. I have little knowledge of the political situation in this region during the 1980s and was looking forward to expanding my knowledge.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of spy novel Trigger Point by Tony Roth
March 2022; Full Bloom Press; 979-8985261127
ebook, print (304 pages); political thriller

I think even if I hadn't just finished a spy thriller, I would still have been disappointed with Trigger Point. I found it boring, the characters felt like caricatures rather than real people, I wasn't ever really sure what the plot was, and there wasn't any historical context given.

The book really needed a good polishing. I'm not talking about formatting issues and typos, I expect some of that in an Advance Reader Copy. I feel that a good development edit was still needed. It felt like I was reading a detailed outline as we hopped from scene to scene with little in the way of transitions. There was also more telling than showing in the beginning. However, when we started to have more character interactions and conversations they felt stilted. 

I was an elementary student during the period portrayed in the book, and the events were too recent to be included in my history lessons as I got older. So I would have appreciated more historical context so that I could understand who the players were and what was at stake. I was more than halfway through before it was even mentioned that there was a Peace Accord that Reagen wanted to negotiate with Central American countries. While there is a lot of killing there is absolutely no tension. As other reviews have mentioned it often felt like I was reading a debriefing report. The one scene that could have infused tension into the storyline, we are left with being told about it after the fact instead of seeing it.

More historical facts would have enriched the storyline. As it is, it felt like it could have been set anytime and anywhere.

The characters are flat. There is a veiled reference to the Bond movies and they mention that the characters in the films are comical. It was exactly what I was thinking about the characters. There are several mentions of cover stories. It was the reason for Nick to marry Anna, but I didn't see how it helped his cover story of being a graduate student doing an internship with USAID. Also, I had no idea who the various people in Colombia thought he was.

And would a foreign operative really be allowed to sit in on clandestine operations planning meetings? Nick's handler's partner is part of the intelligence service in Germany (presumably West Germany). I'm not sure how realistic it is that a CIA handler would be allowed to be personally involved with a member of a foreign intelligence service. 

I think the author needed to do more research into the history of the period as well as how clandestine operations and the CIA operated. It often felt like this was just a boy's fantasy of what it would be like to be a spy. Therefore, the story felt unauthentic and often illogical. Without a tension-filled plot and interesting characters, it was hard to believe in the world Nick, Vicent, and Jon were operating in.

It is rare that I can't find at least one redeemable quality about a book but I just wanted to give up on this book. I did see a few reviews comparing it to the Bond film franchise. As I have neither watched a Bond movie nor read a Bond book, I cannot make such a comparison.

Trigger Point is the first book in The Nicholas Ford series, but as I struggled to even finish this one I have no desire to read a second book in the series.

Buy Trigger Point at Amazon

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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