Instinct (A Chess Team Adventure book 2) by Jeremy Robinson.

May 26, 2015 | By | Reply More

InstinctRobinson  ‘Instinct’ is the second Chess Team adventure novel and, as before, the ‘Chess Team’ is an elite, best-of-the-best, US Special Forces team from the black ops Delta Unit who all have codenames based on chess pieces. It’s the same team from the first novel led by King (Jack Siglar) with Queen, Bishop, Rook and Knight. They are a bit battle-scared after the events in the first book, ‘Pulse’, but are ready for the next assignment, even Bishop who has just been given the green light to return to active service. The people in charge were worried that Bishop would turn into a mindless killing machine after what happened in ‘Pulse’. The rest of the Chess Team are thoughtful killing machines.


Before things start for the Chess team there’s a Prologue and Chapter 1 to get through. The Prolog tells of Dr. Anthony Weston’s ill-fated escapade in the Annamite Mountains. Never heard of the Annamite Mountains? They are in Vietnam, close to the borders of both Cambodia and Laos and surrounded by thick jungle. Dr. Watson is a driven man following a failed marriage where he had to endure his wife’s opinion that being a cryptozoologist was a very poor career choice. He’s in Vietnam to make a name for himself by studying the previously unknown Nguoi Rung. These are a primitive race that has been found by Watson but they are also very, very dangerous, as Watson seems to be finding out as the Prologue ends.

Apart from the Nguoi Rung (which only Watson knows about), the Annamite Mountains also have the dubious claim as being the general location where the deadly Brugada disease originated. This is a particularly nasty disease as it has the habit of stopping the heart in otherwise healthy people while being highly contagious. It is also far more likely to target men than women although the latter are not totally immune, they are less likely to suffer the inconvenience of having their heart stopping unexpectedly. While Brugada arose naturally, it seems someone has weaponised it and targeted the USA. It’s after the President is struck down that they send for the Chess Team. While the President may have been the initial target Brugada is infectious and may quickly exterminate the human race so the race is on to find a cure.

The basic premise of the book is that the Chess Team are assigned to take disease detective Sara Fogg (codename Pawn) into the Annamite Mountains so she can bring back a cure and save humankind. This has to be done without the Vietnamese knowing about it as they aren’t very friendly to the USA. Luckily, they have an operative in the area – Pawn Two – who can assist with the infiltration. Unluckily, when the Chess Team arrive at the designated drop-point, it’s just in time for a kick-off between the Vietnamese Death Volunteers and remnants of the Khmer Rouge who don’t like them being in the area. It’s during these military actions that Robinson’s writing is at its best. Where I think the weak areas are in the plot are the non-military areas.

One of the surprises is that the identity of Deep Blue is revealed. For those who haven’t read the first novel, Deep Blue is someone within the US government/military whose identity the Chess Team doesn’t know. He acts as a watchman who has access to the US spy satellites and advises the Chess Team over the radio during engagements. He’s also capable of calling on other US military assets as and when required. For me, the identity of Deep Blue – which I won’t reveal here – is highly improbable for a whole host of reasons. Another thing which I think is also highly improbably is the rate at which the Nguoi Rung matures. This seems to have been accelerated beyond what’s physically possible. I also think Robinson also needs to give the endings a bit more effort. It’s not so much the ending of the mission but the ending of the book and these are not the same.

I’m possibly nit-picking here as I did enjoy reading ‘Instinct’ which, to me, was an improvement on ‘Pulse’. The main body of the book contains sixty-six chapters split into three sections; Devolution, Evolution and Revolution. While sixty-six chapters sounds like quite a lot, some are rather short so the novel is a manageable 354 pages. I’m saying this, as many parts of this book are what you might call a page-turner. You will just want to see what happens next and 354 pages ensures you won’t go without food or other essentials for too long before you get to the end. But fear not as there is a nice little teaser for the next Chess Team assignment. Your move.

Andy Whitaker

May 2015

(pub: Thomas Dunne Books, 2010. 354 page hardback. Price: $24.99 (US). ISBN: 978-0-312-54029-6)

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Category: Books, MEDIA, Scifi

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About AndyWhitaker

I live in deepest darkest Essex where I enjoy photography, real ales, walking my dog, cooking and a really good book. I own an e-book reader which goes with me everywhere but still enjoy the traditional paper based varieties.

My oriental studies have earned me a black belt in Suduko and I'm considered a master in deadly Bonsai (there are very few survivors).

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