“When it comes to thriller writers, one name stands above the crowd—Jack Higgins.”



Jack Higgins has to be my favourite author of all time. I have read every single book (over 60) he has written, and preorder each new release as soon as I am able. In recent years he has concentrated solely on his Sean Dillon creation. An ex IRA enforcer that now works for the Prime Ministers secret army which consists of his usual band of colleagues, fighting against terrorism and for the safety of the UK/world. Rain on the Dead showcases Dillon in his 21st adventure under of the pen of Jack Higgins.

In my opinion any new Jack Higgins release will be read by mainly 2 categories of readers, the new reader unused to his style or stories, and the avid reader. Obviously I fall into the second group which is why I find it so hard to rate this latest offering with anything more than 3 stars.

What is it about?

Following on from the previous book, Dillon and co are still trying to pit their wits against al-Qaeda, and the new mysterious ‘Master’. The novel opens with an attempt on former USA President Jake Cazalet’s life, of course the secret army are in the neighbourhood and disaster is averted. However, when Dillon does a little digging into the assassins identity, a few ghosts from his earlier career in the IRA resurface. Couple this with the added pressure being forced on the army from AQ and the Muslim Brotherhood and it seems highly unlikely any of the good guys will survive. This time it is personal and there will be nothing that can stop the blood flowing.

What did I like?

The story, when you get down to the basics is typical Higgins. Plenty of gunfire and killings, action every few pages accompanied by a plot that speeds along without getting bogged down in too much detail. The storyline is modern and up to date with current world issues that frequent the news on a daily basis, whilst still being able to relate to past troubles such as the IRA troubles. Higgins has always managed to create colourful characters that are easily to visualise and they are in abundance here. The book at just over 300 pages was an easy read and the pages really did fly by.

What didn’t I like?
As mentioned this is the 21st outing by Dillon and co, and anyone who has followed the series may have a problem. There just isn’t anything that hasn’t been written before. I have noticed in the last few releases that the storylines were getting more and more predictable but this has to be the worst yet. The characters are just acting totally unbelievable for the situation they find themselves, the speech is formulaic, sparse and at times just boring. The prefix ‘said’ is used on nearly every dialogue, and the only real substitute is the word ‘demanded’ – often when there isn’t really any need for it.
Unusually for Higgins this novel really does have far too many characters that seem to dip in and out so often that it gets confusing. Bearing in mind that the majority of characters are supposedly hardline extremists, they change to the opposing side on a whim. The details of the plot are just not feasible at times and everything just seems, well, wooden.

As I have said, I love Higgins but this latest release is possibly, in my eyes, his weakest for a long time. There is only one other novel that is this poor and that was written in the mid seventies, called Sheba. I am sorry to say this, but although it isn’t time that he hung up his pen for good, it is certainly time he put away Dillon and the rest of the crew.

Going back to the beginning of the review, I stated that there are other readers that may are discovering Higgins for the first time. To those it may well seem that the plot and characters are fresh and exciting. I wish I could agree. To those readers I advise to try something else first, such as the brilliant ‘Eagle has Landed’ or my own favourite ‘A Prayer for the Dying’.

I know I will buy his next book, and to be fair at his age I should probably be grateful he is still releasing new material, I just hope I find it a little more satisfying.

Reviewed by:

Lee Bridge

Added 6th April 2015

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Lee Bridge