Three Lives Down: a shining exemplar

April 26, 2016

Rachel Amphlett has managed to incorporate a fast-paced, internationally conspiratorial romp with credible and well-defined characters

By Brisbane author: Rachel Amphlett

Synopsis: (Amphlett, 2015) Dan Taylor has survived two attempts on his life. The rest of his team is missing, and now a terrorist group has stolen a radioactive isotope from a top secret government project. Can Dan survive long enough to prevent a nuclear disaster on British soil? With the Prime Minister determined to re-negotiate the country’s place in the European Union, and deals being struck behind closed doors, Dan stumbles across a plot that will shake the country to its core. If his mission fails, his enemies will overthrow the British government, and Dan will be a wanted man. If he wants to succeed, he’ll have to sacrifice everything.

I’m not a huge fan of the majority of ‘international espionage’ novels, due to the fact that they tend to spend far more time explaining the mechanical intricacies of, say, an AH64 Apache attack helicopter or the superior firepower of a Heckler & Koch G36 assault rifle, rather than realistic character development or plausible back-stories. However, there are exceptions to be found in the usual testosterone-overloaded action and adventure genre, and Three Lives Down is a shining exemplar in this sense. (Potentially inviting the ire of multitudes of diverse, cause-driven groups, dare I suggest that it may be because this book is written by a tech-savvy, intelligence-agency-aware, emotionally empathic FEMALE author?)

Rachel Amphlett has managed to incorporate a fast-paced, internationally conspiratorial, ‘super secret squirrel’ romp with credible and well-defined characters. In addition, she has integrated a fact-based, eco-terrorism angle that will have opponents of oil and gas fracking operations shaking in their boots.

Apparently radioactive isotopes are regularly utilised to evaluate the concentration of these desirable and profitable resources. (I’ve independently checked academic sources for confirmation of this, and, much to my personal horror, Amphlett is spot-on regarding this widespread industry practice.)

So, what if someone hijacks these highly dangerous radioactive commodities? The components are integral to build a ‘dirty bomb’ that could negatively impact vast population bases in the United Kingdom and beyond.

Enter chief protagonist Dan Taylor, a geologist, ex-soldier, and current member of the UK’s ‘Energy Protection Group’. Dan’s been kidnapped, tortured, rescued, and subjected to an assassination attempt – all within the first 34 pages. He then hooks up with Mel, a savant computer analyst, as well as former flame Sarah, an ex-journalist who has inside info on a potential government conspiracy. Who can Dan trust? Well, trust me on this, Dan – pretty much no-one!

According to Amphlett’s website, Three Lives Down is the third in a series of novels featuring the character of Dan Taylor—the first two being White Gold and Under Fire. Nonetheless, I didn’t feel as though I’d been thrown into the middle of an ongoing storyline, as this book stands strong in its own regard.

However, it transpires that Amphlett has contained all three titles in a 2015 omnibus edition release, and I am more than tempted to purchase same, as my interest in Dan Taylor’s previous character development and adventures have been whetted by this latest novel.

On a final note, Dan’s conclusive actions in Three Lives Down beg further escapades, and I seriously hope that Amphlett is already constructing his next adventure.

Rating: Four stars (out of five)!

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