Click here to return to the main site.

Book Review

Book Cover

Gauntlet (Hardback)


Author: Richard Aaron
Glass House Press
RRP: £19.99, US $25.95
ISBN: 978 0 9816768 8 3
Available 11 May 2009

What at first looks like another step towards a safer world, the destruction of sixty tons of Libyan Semtex, soon becomes the lynchpin in a plot to destroy a major American landmark, when a portion of the consignment is hijacked. As agents fan out across the world in an attempt to stop the plot it is Hamilton Turbee, an autistic mathematical genius working for the intelligence department, that gives them the edge against a clever and committed adversary...

Gauntlet is a techno thriller from first time novelist Richard Aaron. Aaron makes no bones about having an agenda, other than telling a good tale, with an autistic son of his own, this is also a platform to challenge people’s misconceptions about this disorder and anything which challenges misconception gets my vote. So, it is no surprise that the hero of the novel, Turbee, is himself autistic.

Given what is happening in the world, it is unsurprising that we are seeing an increase in books which pit the ‘good’ guys against terrorists, who have taken over from the Soviets of the sixties. One of the problems of those older novels was that the protagonists and especially the villains tended to be one dimensional. So, it was a delight to see Aaron not giving into stereotypes either with the terrorists, whose ideology I presume he does not agree with, or with the intelligence agents. Aaron allows all his characters to go some way to explaining the justifications for their actions leading to a more interesting and robust read, and casts a realistic eye over the connections between the drug trade and global terrorism.

Ultimately, this is a chase book; will the American foil the plan in time? Often these types of books trade action for characterisation to the detriment of the overall narrative. Gauntlet succeeds in that difficult juggling act which demands both excitement and character development. That said, a few of the plots resolutions didn’t ring true, but this is only a partial fault that can be aimed at the book, as overall resolutions spring from a logical sequence of events.

Even from the beginning of the book Aaron’s writing style is very personal, often betraying his own world view. This is not necessarily a bad thing, after all if you have something to say, it is preferable not to hide behind literary devices, though I’m not sure how many people would agree with his relatively positive view of George Bush.

Minor faults aside, some of the prose is a little heavy, this is an impressive novel from a first time writer. This is not even remotely the sort of novel that I would normally read, but the construction, characterisation and narrative were quite compelling. I look forward to the next book in the series.


Charles Packer

Buy this item online

We compare prices online so you get the cheapest deal
Click on the logo of the desired store below to purchase this item.

£19.79 (
£21.99 (
$17.13 (

All prices correct at time of going to press.