While enjoying our recent release from latest phase of lockdown, it feels so nice to eat food someone else has cooked, even if the weather can veer from burning hot to pouring with rain during the same meal, I wandered into to our small independent bookshop and found a book by an author I read voraciously as a teenager. The Cell by Colin Forbes was published in 2002, and it shows in its approach to the then contemporary environment of post September the 11th.
I had read many of Forbes books in the 1990s after “borrowing” one from a school friend. Sorry Tom. He had been writing for a good thirty years before I found him and had started with standalone novels before coming up with a series of stories about Tweed and his team at SIS. In the twenty-year period between Tweeds first appearance in 1982 and this books publication, the characters don’t age even though the environment they are in does. It makes for an odd juxtaposition with some characters getting no development and others having an almost 180 degree turn from previous novels.
I had stopped reading the series around 2000 as the stories had become so formulaic as to be boring. The merry band face off with another evildoer, travel around Europe, and meet potential suspects along the way. There’s always a man of power and influence, a woman with a mysterious past, and some other red herrings thrown in who may or may not be important. I’m not averse to formulaic, I enjoy the Jack Reacher series, but this just doesn’t do it for me in terms of re-reading or seeking out the stories I haven’t read that follow this one.
If you want to story that details closely what everyone is wearing and hasn’t aged well in the last 20 years, this is for you. Otherwise I’d be more inclined to seek out other authors for your dive into espionage and thrilling adventure