Book Review | Arkhangel by James Brabazon

Title: Arkhangel

Author: James Brabazon

Publisher: Michael Joseph (Penguin)

Release Date: 20th August 2020

Source: NetGalley
Officially, Max McLean doesn't exist.

An off-the-books assassin for the British government, he operates alone.

But when a routine hit goes badly wrong, a cryptic note on a $100 bill prised from his target's dead fingers suggests there's more to the mission than meets the eye.

Is someone from Max's former life trying to send him a message?

From Paris to Jerusalem and on to the frozen wastes of north-west Russia, Max is forced into a desperate race for the truth - with unknown enemies determined to stop him at any cost.

And when the secret coded into the banknote is finally revealed, only one thing is certain: with the fate of the world in his possession, failure is not an option . . .

Combining the intelligence of Ian Fleming, the raw inventiveness of I Am Pilgrim and the breathless pace of movies like Mission Impossible, Arkhangel sees James Brabazon stake his claim as rival to Lee Child, David Baldacci and Gregg Hurwitz as a master of the modern action thriller.

With comparisons to Lee Child and David Baldacci straight away I knew I was going to be in for a good read, Arkhangel doesn’t disappoint.

Our protagonist is Max McLean a man who doesn’t exist and a man who has so many bumps and scrapes throughout this book I am surprised he gets past the first couple of chapters alive!  But that is what he is trained to do, he is an assassin, one that operates with his own agenda.

We meet Max during a botched assassination where his target is already dead, he retrieves from the body an $100 bill - it hides a cryptic message that takes him from Ireland to Paris then Jerusalem then finally the snowy wastes of Russia.

Things I liked about this book -

  • The settings, especially Paris and Jerusalem.  In Paris some of the action takes place in the catacombs below the city, a highly spooky place full of bones and explorers - if you’ve not heard about it check it out here.  Jerusalem sounds vibrant, full of colour and delicious food and lots of history.
  • Baaz, he joins Max in Paris, he helps Max circumnavigate the catacombs, he is the angel to Max’s devil.
  • The motorbike scene  - it takes place in Paris, Max is on the run from the cops, the Russian’s, probably MI6, the Israelis, name a team of assassins, you can bet they are on his tail.  His tail is perched upon a motorbike which proceeds to career through the streets of Paris, the writing around these chapters really conveys the urgency of it.

Things I didn’t like about this book - 

  • It did take a little while to get going, the first couple of chapters though full of action didn’t fully hit the mark for me, the book really got going about a third of the way in.
  • His luck, he is shot at, near drowned, more times than anyone could survive - I know poetic license and all that, Max must have bones made of the same stuff as Wolverine.

All in all though it is what it says on the tin, a thrilling journey to get to the bottom of the cryptic message, Max never gives up despite the numerous hurdles he faces.  I can see a film of this in the future.  Hopefully without Tom Cruise in the leading role.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.



  1. I'm glad you enjoyed it in spite of the niggles!

  2. This book sounds crazy! And it seems it would make a good movie😁

  3. You always have to suspend disbelief a little bit in these kinds of books, but I never mind. I just think they're a lot of fun to read. :)

    1. You totally do, if you look at these books rationally you’d start wondering about the cost of fixing up buildings and health insurance!

  4. Haha Wolverine! :) Sounds fun, though, despite a little over-the-topness maybe. and the PAris catacombs. What a great location. This sounds pretty good.

  5. Oh hello! I love the sound of the action in this, and Max. I did think of Jason BOurne first thing, but you're right, Tom Cruise would be great in a movie of htis too!


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