‘Point Blanc – Alex Rider #2’ by Anthony Horowitz

I read ‘Stormbreaker’ the first Alex Rider book, a year ago and had a great time. It was everything I’d thought it would be except that the people Alex works for, the ‘good guys’ were really rather unpleasant.

I’d meant to get back to Alex sooner but… so many books, so many good intentions, so little time, yada yada yada. Anyway, I included the second book in my Cold Comfort Reads challenge because much of it is set at the top of the French Alps in winter.

I enjoyed the fact that the book didn’t plunge Alex straight into a conflict with an eccentric super-villain in his Alpine Aerie (although we definitely got there in the end, right down to the disposable guards and the ‘Before-I-kill-let-me-share-the-details-of-my-evil-plan-for-world-domination monologuing from the uber-villain).

The scene is set with a high tech, very elaborate assassination. Then we move to Alex, who is back in his civilian life but who has found it no longer fits him well We watch as he extracts a spectacular if ill-conceived revenge on the guy selling drugs at the gates of his school. Then we meet MI6, who are just as unpleasant as they were last time, and they set Alex up with a whole new identity, part of which puts him at a billionaire’s home for a few days, pretending to be his son. I quite enjoyed watching Alex deal with the posh-boy wannabe toughs. I thought he let them get off lightly. The scene with the horse I could have lived without but it was still fun.

Then Alex is in the mountains, undercover, trying to figure out what the evil genius is up to. What the evil genius was up to was no more absurd than the average Bond villain and a lot more original but it still turned my suspension of disbelief into a bungee jump.

The action scenes on the mountain were joyously over the top. Hurtling down a black run in the dark while being chased by guys on snowmobiles equipped with machine-guns. Wonderful stuff.

The ending was a little odd but was still fun.

I’m hoping not to leave it a year until my next visit with Alex. He’s the perfect distraction from a miserable world.

My enjoyment was greatly enhanced by listening to the audiobook version, narrated with verve and energy by Oliver Chris. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample.

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