The Watch List by Joseph Mitcham
68 dead and nearly 300 injured in a hostile vehicle and bomb attack on a community festival in Birmingham, the country is in shock.Battling the mental turmoil of the aftermath, Alex, a former Army communications specialist, stumbles across the UK Terror Watch List - he cannot resist the challenge of stealing the list from under the nose of his contract supervisor, Lucy Butler, a razor sharp and headstrong Intelligence Corps corporal with big ambitions.Wrestling with his conscience and the ethics of tackling unconvicted suspects, Alex enlists the help of famed former UK Special Forces Warrant Officer, Craig Medhurst. Alex struggles to win the respect of Craig’s core team, but together they hatch a daring plan to act on their selected targets.Can Alex use his charm to persuade Corporal Butler to join them?
This isn’t my usual genre, so I wasn’t too sure what to expect from Mitcham, but I found myself propelled along in an engaging tale of terrorism, community, and some serious ex-soldiers.
Alex spends his post-Army time in IT solutions, and one day finds himself working a one-off job for the Intelligence Corps. As he inadvertently comes across the UK terrorist watch list, he’s forced to make quick decisions on whether to make a copy, and then what to do with it.
It’s a real eye opener into a world many of us are utterly oblivious to. There’s a real sense of the behaviours and thought-processes never leaving those who have served; a lot of the narrative is knowledgeable and insightful, and has some really interesting commentary on how being in the forces can affect someone.
My favourite chapter in the novel was the first one. Mitcham begins his novel beautifully contrasting calm with chaos, innocent with evil. It was truly masterful and completely pulled me in.
The story itself is packed full of pace and tension as Alex and his team take action on the list of dangerous individuals in their hands. There are some serious moralistic and ethical implications here and Mitcham explores them well.
An excellent novel for someone who’s interested in the forces, the people who serve, and what could happen if you stole a confidential document from the Security Service.