When Dan Taylor receives a call from an old college friend, Paul, he dismisses it out of hand, not wanting to connect with anyone or anything from his past. Having spent years drifting and still tortured by dreams of a bombing in Iraq, Dan wants only to focus on numbing his pain and forgetting the past.
When his friend is found dead, Dan suddenly gives more notice to the last message Paul left, a message in which he told Dan he was scared for his life. Needing to understand what his friend had become embroiled in, Dan seeks out Sarah, Paul’s ex-wife, and the person who Paul said held the key to his fear. Because Paul has sent Sarah a copy of his research into precious metal mining, research that someone is willing to kill to keep buried.
As they try to uncover the truth behind Paul’s death, Dan and Sarah find themselves drawn into an international game of cat and mouse. With a killer on their trail, and both top businessmen and politicians standing to gain millions from keeping Paul’s discovery hidden, Dan has to turn to a face from the past for help; a past he would much rather forget. But can Dan trust them, or will what they have to tell Dan prove far more disturbing than the violent images that still haunt his dreams?
‘White Gold’ is a fantastic start to the Dan Taylor series by Rachel Amphlett. Touching upon what are some enduring concerns and issues for the modern world, climate change and the need for more environmentally friendly fuel sources, and the growing terrorist influence of the modern era, it is fast paced and full of intrigue, the action never letting up as Dan and Sarah travel the globe in search of answers. Even up to the highly dramatic ending, Amphlett does a great job in capturing and holding the reader’s attention with great characters and an incisive narrative.
Dan Taylor is not your typical action hero. Though he was once a soldier, a highly skilled bomb disposal expert, he has not worked in that field for many years, drifting through life having been wounded in his last tour or Iraq. Whilst it could be expected that a person would never lose the base skillset which goes with that kind of work, he is initially somewhat of a reluctant hero. A man who moves from drink to drink to numb the pain of his memories. Yet he is not a simple, broken and drunken man. There is clarity in his actions and thinking and he is a very likable character. Down to earth and yet highly focused, the way in which Amphlett builds the determination in his character is wholly believable.
And Sarah? Well she is one tough woman. Possessing the naturally inquisitive instincts one would expect from a journalist, she will not let go and she will not stay put when asked. Her bravado in spite of constant threats to her safety, a kind of defiance, is refreshing to see. Yes, she is still vulnerable at times, it would be strange if she wasn’t given she has no military training and has found herself in a life threatening position, but she is not a weak willed woman dependant on Dan for her life. Quite the opposite as at times it is Sarah who gets Dan out of scrapes, rather than the other way around, although she is not so strong that she doesn’t on occasion give in to her emotions. Well, who wouldn’t?
While there is an element of the conspiratorial about the story, it is not overdone and with the growth of major conglomerates and the questionable nature of certain big businesses dominance of key utilities and other major contracts, there are many things which ring true. In the pursuit of money, and power, ultimately pure and simple greed, who knows how far a person may go. While the plot had the capacity to be very complex due to the scientific elements involved, Amphlett made it highly accessible and believable, with the technical and emotional side of Dan’s role in the army brilliantly described, at least as far as I was concerned as an inexperienced lay-person. And the story certainly taps into all of the key elements which make up a great spy or action thriller, and the deceit and mistrust which exists between former colleagues and friends is very well written.
I listened to, rather than read this book, and the audio-book, narrated by Craig Beck, is fantastic. If got me from the Midlands to Dundee and it was with great reluctance that I finally got out of my car at the hotel, switching to kindle to read the final two chapters over dinner. I used to love reading Tom Clancy books when I was at Uni, and this put me in mind of some of the best of them; the threat to national security, the big business and governmental conspiracy, and the ultimate betrayal of one old friend by another. If you want a fast paced, high tension read with truly action led narrative and a brilliantly altruistic, somewhat reluctant new hero, then this is the book for you.
I already have books 2 & 3 in the series. All that remains is to settle down and read them to find out what is next for our hero, Dan.
A thoroughly enjoyable and action packed 4 stars from me.