There is something special about Shawlens as the "hero" in an action thriller. Yes, the man is incredibly intelligent (he's a biochemist after all) but he is essentially the antithesis of any action hero we've met in the past. He is shy, mild-mannered and certainly not brave, and yet he strolls through Bickerstaff's novels making things right. James Bond, he ain't, or even Johnny English. As a secret agent, he is just a normal, everyday, man and someone the readers can definitely identify with.
I have read the books out of order, but up till now that has mattered little - each book is a separate adventure, although they are linked through the use of the supporting characters from MI5, The Lambeth Group, or Special Forces.
In this iteration, Everything to Lose, Shawlens biochemical expertise is required to check on some University research suggesting a new, "natural" drug has been found that can increase sportsmen's performance by a massive amount. The potential uses of the drug, for military purposes drag in Government interests and Gavin soon finds himself the subject of serious attention from the US Government and the CIA, among others.
This is a typical Bickerstaff story; fast, taut and full of tension. In true style, the author has set up the next story in his series, which I now have to read as soon as possible. I must know what happens to Gavin and Zoe. This is the mark of an excellent storyteller and Gordon Bickerstaff is one of those. I can only but recommend this entire series to anyone who loves fast, action-packed thrillers, with an unusual "hero". Another great episode in the Shawlens saga and, of course, five stars all the way.