The Plastic Paradigm, by Paul Stretton-Stephens, the first book in the Jack Jago Thriller Series could perhaps best be described as a short primer to this new series of thrillers based around the character of Jack Jago, a security consultant in Great Britain. At just 128 pages on Kindle, it is a novelette, but it does still contain a full story and action adventure featuring our hero, Jack Jago (or just plain Jago, as he prefers). This books serves its purpose well of introducing us to the dangerous and surreptitious world of Jago and his team of specialists, as they seek to thwart the actions of criminals, terrorists, or indeed anyone who crosses their paths, that needs justice meted out to them.
Jago is a former British special services operative and military policeman and as such is well versed in the “dark arts”, having funds as well as access to the most sophisticated and covert surveillance systems and weapons available. Although Jago’s firm may often work undercover for the British Government, they are a private organisation and not constrained by the normal “rules of engagement”. When you cross Jago, you are very likely to lose your life, especially if you try to fight back.
In The Plastic Paradigm, Jago is investigating the mysterious disappearance of a Government research scientist and his assistant, when a body appears at the wharf, tied to an anchor chain of a ship. Ultimately this will lead Jago into the world of illicit dumping at sea, of plastics and other hazardous wastes, by unscrupulous businessmen and shipping line owners. When Kim, a young employee of a shipping freight company is kidnapped and about to be raped and tortured, Jago is forced to step in and rescue her, sparking an investigation by him and his team to track down the people determined to stop an NGO, Ocean Beautiful, from releasing a report naming and shaming some of the most powerful businessmen and Governments in the world for their illicit waste dumping behaviours. In this high-stakes game, Jago must move fast to protect those who would expose these activities.
Author Stretton-Stephens, with Jago, has produced a character reminiscent of other thriller “heroes”, such as Cussler’s Dirk Pitt or Clancy’s Jack Ryan. These are indeed big shoes to fill, but from what I’ve read of Stretton Stephens’ work to date, I am impressed with the character he has created and has developed in the first two books in this series. Jago is everything you would expect in an “action hero” – smart, fit, well trained, exceptionally knowledgeable and extremely effective at what he does. He carries his military training, into civilian life and along with the gadgetry the new technology of today has to offer, is able to keep at least one step ahead of the “baddies” at all times. I also appreciate that his team is a diverse bunch of ex-military types, one who was severely injured in the service to her country and one with dazzling tech-wizard ability. Jago is perhaps not as suave and debonair as a Bond, but there is no doubt the man carries charisma and the ability to charm the ladies, extremely well.
I like the author’s simple, straightforward writing style and the non-stop and heart-pumping action he weaves into the stories keeps you on the edge of your chair. There is never a dull moment in a Stretton-Stephens’ book. Action hero stories are, by definition, somewhat formulaic, but in Jago, I believe we have a character and a storyline that lifts The Plastic Paradigm and the Jack Jago series, well above your run of the mill action thrillers. Stretton-Stephens’ own life imitates that of Jack Jago and therefore you can be well assured the author knows his subject matter, understands military tactics and weaponry well, and has well-researched the up to date technical issues in the story.
If you are a fan of action thrillers; a Clancy, a Higgins or a Cussler fan, then I suspect the Jack Jago Thriller series will be right up your alley. I’d say give it a go and celebrate the excellent, talented independent authors out there in the marketplace right now, such as Paul Stretton-Stephens.