No Free Man by Graham PottsTitle: No Free Man

Author: Graham Potts

Pages: 448

Publisher: Pantera Press

Publication Date: 4 January 2016

Rating: ★★

I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley

Stepan Volkov forfeited his future when he was paid to forget his past.

Forced to adapt, he ultimately became the world’s most wanted killer… feared, vicious and brutal.

A tool of the Organizatsiya, a Russian crime syndicate that forged him into ‘The Wolf’, he’s pursued by American spies and Australian agents, torn between his need to survive and his desire to be free.

When a shock encounter in Australia uncovers forgotten secrets and threatens uneasy allegiances, Volkov suddenly sees a choice… one he thought would never be his to make.

With a billion-dollar international oil deal threatening to shift the global balance of power, will Volkov return to Moscow to wage war for the Organizatsiya, or will he find the courage to escape with a vengeful thief whose life he destroyed?

I picked up this book because I am always looking to try out new Australian authors in the spy thriller genre. For whatever reason there aren’t many Australian authors or characters in the genre so when I do come across one, I always give them a try. While No Free Man is not really a spy thriller, it’s pretty close so that’s why I gave it a read.

No Free Man is Graham Potts’ first novel and follows the story of Stepan Volkov, a hitman for the Russian crime syndicate known as the Organizatsiya. While completing a job in a small town in Australia, Volkov runs into someone from his past that makes him rethink his future. The book also follows Australian agents Hartigan and Singh as they attempt to chase down Volkov and the Organizatsiya in Australia. The book is an action-packed thriller with interesting characters and an ambitious plot.

I think it’s important to recognise that even though I gave this book a two star rating, it’s not that it is a bad book. It’s just not my cup of tea. Personally, I’m not really a fan of the over-the-top style of action that Potts uses in No Free Man. But having said that, it’s impossible to call the book boring. There are explosions, shooting, fighting, people actually having their heads blown off and a wide range of seemingly normal objects used as deadly weapons. It’s not my style but it is still pretty thrilling.

While the book was a thrilling read, I feel that it was trying to do too much. There is just so much going on at one time and for a lot of the book it is hard to follow what is actually going on and how they all tie in to each other. I think I would have enjoyed and understood the story more if it was toned down just a little bit, in terms of the number of things going on and the crazy pace the book moves at.

There were also some things I really enjoyed about the book. The book felt pretty fresh and innovative because it used Australia as a backdrop which is not something I have ever seen anyone else in the genre really do. The plot ideas were all pretty interesting and the characters of Volkov, Grigoriy and Hartigan really stood out for me. All in all, No Free Man is a book that has a lot of potential but just wasn’t to my taste.

Worth a read? If you are the kind of reader who enjoys books that are filled to the brim with over-the-top action scenes, like the work of Marc Cameron, and anti-hero protagonists with shady pasts, then No Free Man is worth a read.



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