Sunday, 27 October 2019

Viper Squad (Point Team #2)

eBook cover
Author: J. B. Hadley
First Published: 1985
File size/Pages: 945KB / 207pp
Ebook Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Ebook Date: September 2009

The are are two important things to note about this book review. The first is that I made a terrible mistake when I started reading Viper Squad by J. B. Hadley. There are three books in the series under the banner "A Point Team Adventure" and I thought I was reading the first book in the series! It turns out I was reading the second book. I should have started with The Point Team - damn I hate it when that happens!

The second thing of note is that this eBook version of a 1985 paperback published by Warner Publishing was re-released in 2009 by Grand Central Publishing. They have made an absolute hash of the content with some of the worst formatting I have ever seen in a book sold in the Kindle Store. A total disgrace to the author and the book they wave written. Really, I have no idea what goes on in the publishing industry in regards to converting paperbacks to eBooks but someone really took their eye off the ball here and have put out a seriously low quality product. I suspect Grand Central considered that the amount of customers to potentially purchase this book would be low and therefore it was not worth the attention to detail it deserves. Thanks a bunch Grand Central Publishing.

With that in mind, you have to realise that my review is going to have been effected by my reading experience. It can be extremely difficult to get into a book when the changes in character view, or perspective or scene lack the sign post of scene break. Reading becomes a chore as you find yourself actively looking out for a scene break instead of just enjoying the prose as intended. When you suddenly realise the scene has changed and you are not reading about Mr X, but Mr Y, you find yourself skimming back to find the point at which the change happened and starting again.

Another thing - what's with all the extra hyphens? They seemed to be slapped in between words at least once a page when not required. Do you know how jarring it is to read when a word is erroneously split into two, randomly in the middle of sentences, and not because the page width needs the word to wrapped onto the next line? Words like "over-ran", "professional-ism" or the most bizarre "an-other". Come on.......

Enough of that. Lets talk about the story. Just to say, despite my stupid mistake, reading Viper Squad before The Point Team did not have too much effect, in fact until I realised I'd done it, I would never have known.

The author is a bit of a mystery, J. B. Haldey, my searching skills on the Internet has not turned up a single reference. I can only guess that it is a pen name, but honestly I have no clue otherwise. If someone knows, please respond to my posts for this blog entry on Facebook. There are three Point Team books in the series in the following order;

  1. The Point Team
  2. Viper Squad
  3. Cobra Strike

Viper Squad starts entertainingly with Sally Poynings and her current boyfriend, Bennett, witnessing a 'dissapeared' incident on the outskirts of San Salvador, capital of El Salvador. They are there because Bennett is a documentary film-maker, fresh from shooting a film about sharks. He wants to witness the atrocities happening across South America, and Sally insisted on accompanying him despite his warnings that it would be extremely dangerous for a young, beautiful, blonde American woman to travel thereabouts. After witnessing the kidnapping of some locals, they pay for more information from a local taxi-driver who takes them to a place where they see for themselves the fate of 'dissapeared' citizens.

Things become very difficult for the pair, and especially for Sally, who has always been a boisterous girl, rebelling against her wealthy father's wishes whenever the opportunity arises.

We are then gradually introduced to the members of the Point Team; lead by Mike Campbell. Each of them are engaged in different jobs, some of them are even stalking ex-wife's husbands (I got quite a 'Taken' vibe from the members of Mike's crew) - they are fish out of water in their non-mercenary lives, desperate to get back to the jungles or the deserts, dressed in combat gear and engaged in behind the lines secret operations for which they are paid handsomely.

Without spoiling too much - Mike is eventually asked by Dwight Quincey Poynings to gather a team together to fly to El Salvador and extract Sally, whatever the costs. Campbell has to pull his crew, get them armed to the teeth and have them trained for immediate action in jungle conditions. The rapport between the various members of the team is great, with Campbell having to ensure they remain as professional as possible but avoiding the local army and police in order to locate Sally before she gets involved in something she will never return from.

Despite all the unforgivable formatting errors, there is a good novel trying to get out here. Whoever Hadley is, he knows his stuff. We have good combat, experienced technical knowledge of arms and ammunition, and some very exciting set-pieces. It just took  me a long time to get through this due to the state of the eBook.

There are some nice gruesome pieces, penises get shot off, feet get burned to the bone, and necks get sliced mercilessly in the heat of battle.

The eBook cotst £0.99, normally this would be great value. If only the publishers checked the crappy formatting! I really cannot recommend this book in digital form it is one of the worst I've experienced. Grand Central Publishing - you are on my hit list.