Matthew Dunn’s latest book, Slingshot, is a continuation of the powerful series involving MI6 operative Will Cochrane.
He lets the readers enter the dangerous realm of intelligence through powerful storylines. Many sub-plots that attempt to explain the lonely world of an operative surround the story.
MI6 officer Cochrane searches throughout Europe to find out who is responsible for a document that will cause the annihilation of the population of China. He soon realizes that someone very powerful, a shadowy former high-ranking East German Stasi officer is behind this horrific conspiracy along with rogue intelligence officers from the US and Russia. Besides these adversaries Will must also tackle a Soviet “Spycatcher” who is seeking to find the culprits and will stop at nothing to achieve his goal.
Because the East German Stasi officer will stop at nothing, he has threatened the only family Will has left, his sister Sarah. It is during these potent scenes that Dunn attempts to debate the issue: at what cost should an operative go to protect their country and fellow citizens. Dunn describes Sarah as the older sister who is anti-violence and repelled by the anger Will displayed while protecting her during their childhood. Dunn told blackfive.net, “The issue that I am playing with is how Will makes her uncomfortable with his sharp end of violence. I think in this book she is portrayed as selfish because she puts herself in a bubble.” She can be a metaphor for the liberal who chooses to ignore the overall picture of what civilian protectors must do to keep them safe. The theme throughout his novels is that there are no right or wrong answers.
To counter Sarah and expose her hypocrisy, he introduces the former MI6 officer, Betty. Dunn describes her as “very British, off the mold, who fought in WWII, and a non-liberal who straight talks saying this is what must be done, knowing that the reality is neither a black or white issue. I wanted to have the readers think when push comes to shove where are you going to stand as opposed to discussing this over a nice glass of wine in a safe environment. I put in the famous Churchill quote; ‘People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us.’ I wanted to show that faced with a catastrophic situation at the end of the day you need somebody with guts to do something.”
It is obvious that in this book there is a shout out to senior citizens. Besides Betty there are three others that are enlisted to help Will. The author described in the book, “The old operatives were well past their prime, but they had something that a younger and more agile team couldn’t have: wisdom, and a been-there and seen-it-all wealth of experience.” Dunn is hoping people will understand that there is the ability to learn from their elders. He explained that one scene in the book was straight out of a personal experience. A senior, fragile woman at the shooting range of a training MI6 facility asked him about a handgun he was testing. He showed her how to position it to fire and after getting the gun, she completely ignored his instructions and proceeded to fire bullseye target shots.
Dunn’s next book will have Will falsely accused and on the run in the US. He is framed for something he did not do, which will be the book’s starting point.
Slingshot is a very character driven book that dictated the plot. Dunn enjoys writing about the Will character because it is loosely based on himself. Anyone who wants to understand the world of espionage will find this storyline interesting and insightful.