George V. Reilly

Review: Scoundrel

Title: Scoundrel
Author: Bernard Cornwell
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Penguin
Copyright: 1992
Pages: 311
Keywords: thriller
Reading period: 19–21 May, 2016

It’s late 1990 and Saddam Hussein has just invaded Kuwait. Paul Shanahan is an exiled Irish-American yacht delivery skipper. He used to be a gunrunner for the IRA, but rumors that he was a CIA agent have kept them at arms’ length. Now the IRA have engaged him to sail $5,000,000 in Libyan-supplied gold coins across the Atlantic to buy 53 Stinger missiles. It stinks but he can’t say no. And maybe he is the CIA agent that he’s rumored to be.

Cornwell is best known as a writer of historical action novels, but he also wrote a handful of con­tem­po­rary sailing thrillers 25–30 years ago. This one holds up well. Shanahan is a scoundrel alright, and he’s made some bad choices over the years that haunt him. He’ll make more before the novel is over.

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