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The Jack McColl Series, Book 4

The fourth, and announced as the final book featuring Jack McColl and his love Caitlin Hanley during the period just before, during and after World War I. Book three left Jack in prison in England serving a trumped up sentence and Caitlin leaving Jack in order to stay in post revolutionary Russia to help work on details of the Communist Revolution.

The opening of this novel has Jack offered a pardon if he will go to Russia to spy on members of the newly formed MI5, apparently plotting high level assassination plans. Jack goes and Caitlin is, of course, in Russia. The strength of the book is in Downing’s thoroughly researched details of the world just after the war to end all wars ends. Russia is depicted in the turmoil of a myriad of battles during her revolution between the many factions emerging to try and take power. Lenin has become the head of state and the Russian government’s ability to help it’s people is virtually nil. Scenes of mass starvation, mass murder and a country devoid of any semblance of law and order are painted in plain prose.

Entering into the mix are the supposed planned assassinations of Gandhi and the British Prince of Wales in India by Russian groups. Also Caitlin has married in the period between the books and that is the proverbial sticky wicket between Jack and her getting together again.

Downing has Jack completely disappointed in England for sending so many young men to die needlessly in World War I and undoubtedly this reflects the author’s opinion. The first three books adequately described the carnage engendered by the battles of men using modern weapons against a foe entrenched just a few yards away. The book and the series ends with a climax that reflects Downing’s opinion and is the only possible logical ending. A complete series about a period now more than a century ago. It is certain that Downing will entertain his readers again, and I trust very shortly.

4/18 Paul Lane

THE DARK CLOUDS SHINING by David Downing. Soho Crime (April 10, 2018).  ISBN 978-1616956066. 384p.

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