At Close Quarters
OR
An Eye For An Eye
By Gerald Seymour

(Buy from Amazon.com)

20 December 2002
By Gary Alan Cartwright

Originally published in 1987 as At Close Quarters, which is a bit of a misnomer, as the whole plot builds up to, and indeed rests upon a single long-range shot. It was published in the US as An Eye For An Eye, which is far more appropriate. The only real drawback to this novel is the fact that it is British, and only then if you are unused to their particular language characteristics. Having been assumedly edited for just that reason for the US audience, it is not even that noticeable, and does not detract in any way from the story. The book itself is a rather hard to find one, not in stock with either Amazon or Barnes & Nobel. I stumbled upon it a used bookstore while on holiday and promptly forgot about it. Then as my pile of unread books dwindled, I picked it up and was taken by it. I would say that I didn't put it down, but things like Algebra and work required that I did.

The plot is simple (well not really): an Arabic assassin murders a British ambassador and his female secretary/Secret Intelligence agent in Russia. The secretary's fiancÚ, Peter Holt, looked on helplessly and can only stare at the shooter. He is able to describe the killer to such a degree that he is soon identified. A plan is formed, and thanks to the "They should never be beyond our reach" stance of the Prime Minister, it is swiftly executed. Holt is somewhat begrudgingly (for both parties) teamed with Noah Crane, a British born Israeli sniper. The two set off into the heart of the Bekka Valley (big nasty desert area in Lebanon; full of terrorists) on a mission of vengeance.

Believe me when I say that the story is far more complex and involved than I make it out to sound, but that's about as far as I can go without spoiling it. But it is chock full of international intrigue, manipulation, terrorism, and death. As the yin to the previous yang, there is also a good deal of character development, man-Vs-himself conflict, emotion, and the strange yet somehow endearing platonic relationship that forms between Holt and Crane. Characters have surface traits, and hidden agendas, as do the countries/factions they represent. There are parts that are slightly hard to follow, as the book jumps from setting to setting, but that is rather minor.

Now as far as sniping goes, over half the story is building up for one well placed shot. The rifle used is the now classic Accuracy International PM model. The book is slightly lacking in the technical detailing that some of us have come to like, but that I think allows it to not completely bore the average reader. Retroactively, there are very few, if any errors to be found. The level of description is amazing, and in some scenes just short of being gory, but the effect is worth while. If I had to use one word to describe this book, it would be Human. It just has a human feel to it, real life with real feeling; something which many sniper novels seem to lack these days. All in all an excellent book, and worth scrounging for!



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