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Views on 'The Increment'

Updated on September 10, 2015
Siddharthasb profile image

I am a blogger and writer. I've been writing for around the past 15 years and live in India.

An action narrative

Bad choices often have bad consequences. That’s what we can gather from Chris Ryan’s ‘The Increment.’This is really a book revolving around blackmail and death in that order. Despite its quintessentially British approach, targeted at a primarily British audience, this is more than a cheap airport thriller. For one it explores various themes such as the nature of personal and professional relationships from the perspective of a rapid narrative. So don’t venture into it unless you have a lot of time to spare because it’s quite panoramic in scope with fast paced action ideal for a film.
The plot is pretty straightforward concerning the harmful aftereffects of a drug given to soldiers to increase their bravery temporarily. While momentarily increasing their bravery in the long run it makes them monsters and virtual madmen. As much as it’s necessary to destroy the illegal factory that is manufacturing the drug, XYP22, it’s also necessary to find the antidote to quell its harmful aftereffects which cause those ex-soldiers who have taken it to kill themselves and their families. Actually it’s quite a realistic plot and would be familiar to those who have treated soldiers for post combat stress. Matt Browning the central figure in this drama is called upon to destroy the factory manufacturing the drug and take out the mafia don behind its manufacture. Of course as all such books go the mission and its objectives are fulfilled to the letter. On the way he comes up against ‘The Increment’, a paramilitary group with links to the intelligence community who are direct beneficiaries of the sale proceeds of this drug. He must stop them or get killed in the bargain. He really doesn’t have any other choice as the British intelligence services have frozen his accounts and threaten to book him for murder along with his girl friend Gill. In the do-or-die struggle with this paramilitary group who are also his ex-colleagues he is nearly hunted down and killed but turns the tables around against them and the French magnate behind them. In this process he’s compelled to collude with criminal elements and forced to accept the death of Gill as collateral damage.
It’s a typically 1990sworld that Chris Ryan describes where ex- Soviet republics are trying to forge a new destiny and the British state has become a corporate state totally sold out to corporate interests in the absence of Cold War certainties. In this context one wonders why the action couldn’t have been based in one ex-Soviet republic rather than two. There doesn’t seem much point in bring Ukraine into a story to bomb a factory in Belarus. Apart from that this is quite a neat work.
It’s quite a cut and dry world that Chris Ryan puts before us where there are no easy ways out. There are hard choices to be made all along and death is a constant companion. We come to realize that as much as we make choices in the world, the relationships we enter into also determine some of those choices and sometimes even whether we live or die.
However for Chris Ryan as Shakespeare would say it’s ultimately a case of “all’s well that ends well.”
Lastly you might ask why review ‘The Increment’ of all Chris Ryan’s books. Simply because it’s the first one I happened to get my hands on at the library!

© 2015 Siddhartha S Bhadrakumar


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