I feel for any writer that wishes to introduce a new book based around an SAS operative in the Middle East. Such a book will not lack modern competition and faces the risk of being “just another SAS book”. In The Last Jihadist Bob Shepherd has tried hard to create a new angle for us word hungry readers.
The last Jihadist tells the tale of an SAS soldier who quickly plummets into the less glamorous world of personal protection before heading to Pakistan to avenge a love lost. The setting is one of undercover ops, espionage and political turmoil.
The story starts off well with the mandatory description of an SAS black op. So far, so good! The book then plunges into a world of political unrest in terror riddled Pakistan. The writer introduces such themes as cut throat journalism, terrorist training camps, Middle Eastern culture, clan history, global politics, foreign espionage and Christian crusaders. It is perhaps understandable then that somewhere between pages fifty and one hundred the story gets buried so deep in conspiracy that it never sees the light of day again.
I would also have to say that the piece is not written with as much skill as the reader demands. This can almost be an advantage when the SAS soldier (turned scribe) attempts to portray the gritty and often harrowing exploits of our brave service men and women. However, such plots require earthy end to end simplicity. Here, the poor reader is left with a black and white image of Pakistan in which to place the multitude of rather flat characters. During the whole journey I never really “experienced” a single location or event. Rather I read about them as one might do in a newspaper article.
Finally, I am not in any way an expert on the subject matter of this book. However, one or two of the plot twists felt flawed whilst the ending was instantly forgettable.
So there you have it. This is not a bad book. It simply isn’t a good book either. Perhaps then this is one to leave for when the SAS classics have all been devoured?