Zero Point by Nafeez Ahmed is an action adventure “spy” novel in a modern format. Ahmed is an investigative journalist and an international security scholar. He writes for The Guardian on geopolitics in his “Earth Insight” column. He also taught international politics, contemporary history, empire, and globalization at the University of Sussex. He holds a PhD in International Relations and an MA in Contemporary War and Peace Studies.
Zero Point was a book I knew I would like from the start. I share the same educational background with the author and the book appears to be a modern twist on the books I used to read back in the Marines. Back then it was the US or Great Britain against the Soviets. Usually, there was a spy, diplomat, or military service man thrown into an international disaster in the making. The situation was not only bigger than anything he trained for but bigger than anything he could imagine. The demise of the Soviet Union and a lacking a credible enemy this type of novel disappeared. It tried making a few comebacks, but never caught on, at least until now.
Ahmed creates a credible enemy in the near future Great Britain. What makes this unique is that the players remain basically the same as they are at the present. There is no unified Jihad movement or unstable Middle East Leader, although there have been four Gulf wars. The Mid East is still a hot spot because of the United State’s thirst for oil and the realization that once you remove the old power structure of a closed society and open it to democracy, in one fell swoop, it is going to fail.
Zero Point creates a convincing near future world scenario. The reader can be pulled into a believable setting. David Ariel, a veteran of the fourth Gulf War, left the military for reasons of conscience and finds himself working a protection detail for the Prime Minister as a civilian cop in Specialist Protection, SO1. In route to a meeting with the Iranian ambassador, Prime Minister Carson’s Motorcade is attacked and destroyed. Ariel survives, only to find out that it looks like he will be blamed for the disaster–Not for dereliction of duty, but as a plotter. He escapes custody and tries not only to clear his name but find those responsible.
This is where the novel requires the suspension of disbelief. Alliances are made. technology is discovered. Covert groups rise. This after all is an action/spy novel and the key to making the unbelievable believable is in the way the story is told. Ahmed introduces new information in a way that exposes it in a methodical process. The reader finds himself in the frog pot where the water is being warmed a degree at a time and by the time the reader realizes that something is amiss, the water is boiling.
Zero Point is an action packed novel filled with twists and turns and technology that will hold any Cold War spy novel fan’s interest. Ahmed pulls together every spy novel “cliche” and molds it into the post Cold War world; he even creates some new ones. The escalation of events in the novel prevents me from disclosing much more information than I already have. Events and items build upon each in Zero Point. Zero Point is a fast and furious novel that will bring back many readers who missed the good old days of the Cold War.