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BOOK
Alias
Collateral Damage

Author: Pierce Askegren
Pocket Books
RRP 5.99, US $6.99, Cdn $10.50
ISBN 1 4169 0247 3
Available 07 November 2005


When a supposedly routine mission goes wrong and a civilian is hurt, the past comes back to haunt Sydney. The personal passion which makes Syd such a good operative threatens to impede her efficiency as she frets over the collateral damage, and the ghosts of her own past which have come back to haunt her. The past not only comes back to haunt Syd, as the investigation continues it appears that Vaughn's past has also come back to haunt him, threatening the future of his family...

Collateral Damage is an original novel based on the television show Alias. The book is written by Pierce Askegren, who is the author of a number of genre books as well as the first two books of his own Inconstant Moon trilogy.

The novel starts slow, even though the opening scenes - of the operation going wrong and Sydney being in relative mortal danger - should have been exciting, it just doesn't feel that way. I read and reread the sequence trying to work out just why the opening chapter didn't feel exciting or dangerous. The only thing that springs to mind is that, in the back of your mind, you know that there was never any danger involved. If Sydney had died at this point it would be a very short book. A little more detective work at the front of the book to increase tension would have been nice.

The rather flat response to the book lasts for the first one hundred pages. Don't get me wrong its not that the writing is bad, its just nothing really happens that excites. This changes when Syd goes to South America and the plot starts to take off. Once it gets into its stride the novel becomes more interesting.

Another potential problem with Collateral Damage is its continual references to plot points from the show which are dropped in without sufficient explanation. There are lots of references to Sydney's and other characters pasts which are just confusing with the limited background information offered here.

I'm not sure which audience, apart from Alias fans, this book would appeal to. It's over reliance on the show to provide detailed background may lead to an unnecessary level of confusion in the uninitiated reader.

If you're a fan of the show then it may keep you going for a couple of hours between seasons, otherwise it's not a strong enough spy story or thriller for the casual reader.

Charles Packer

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