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Peter Cock serves a 'Body Blow'

Savage stories


Body Blow By Peter Cocks Walker Books, 364 pages Best Price: Rs 240 (20% off) at shopping. indiatimes. com

Eddie Savage has a nasty scar on his tummy and a bad case of the jitters. He jumps every time a door slams and a car alarm can reduce him to tears. Clearly, what the 18-year-old undercover agent needs is rest and recovery-and a trip to sunny Spain seems just the answer.

Only, Eddie is a magnet for trouble. And instead of surf and stunning senoritas, he finds himself kneedeep in cocaine dealers and multi-million dollar drug deals. Bitterly he realises that his bosses in the sinister world of intelligence have once again tossed him into "a basketful of bullet-spitting cobras".

Body Blow is a sequel to Long Reach, a novel for young adults in which Eddie Savage makes his debut. The teenager is devastated by the death of his beloved brother when he is recruited by a nameless London-based intelligence agency that operates behind the facade of the Sugacubes Model Agency. Within a few days, the youngster has a new identity, a swish wardrobe, a safe apartment, an enormous TV and a cache of guns and bugging devices. The average teenager's dream come true.

In return, Eddie has to befriend the lovely Sophie Kelly - who just happens to be the daughter of the notorious Thomas Kelly. Daddy Kelly runs a crime empire that dabbles in everything from drugs to ammunition to forged art. During a rather clumsy operation to catch the kingpin red-handed, Eddie is critically wounded. His bosses spread the word that Eddie is dead.

Except that barely six months later, the undercover operative is exhumed. This time he is given brown hair, brown eyes and the identity of Pedro Garcia. Then he is planted in the unattractive town of Benalmadena on the Costa del Sol where he is supposed to keep an eye on the booming cocaine trade. What his bosses have forgotten to tell him, however, is that the biggest player in the business is Patsy Kelly, younger brother of Thomas Kelly.

Once again, Eddie finds himself in the bosom of the psychopathic Kelly family. Single-handedly he has to deal with high-on-coke Patsy and his evil, dagger-happy henchman Terry Gadd. Then there's a one-legged ex-serviceman who keeps popping up during inopportune moments. And a disguised hit-man from the old days. Not to mention an invisible Serbian war criminal and a bunch of aggrieved Russians and Rumanians.

The worst of this unwholesome bunch, however, are Eddie's ruthless, dishonest and remarkably inefficient bosses. "The difference between the organisation I worked for and the crims, " our hero muses bitterly after one of many betrayals, "is that the villains were true to their word;they did exactly what they said they were going to do. "

Body Blow only works if you've read Long Reach. But like the earlier Eddie Savage novel, it's amusing, packed with action and offers an amusing glimpse into the chaotic world of undercover operations. While the series is meant for young adult readers, their parents will probably enjoy the breezy read as well.

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