Book Club: The Kill Zone

Chris Ryan is ‘the one that got away’: the one member of the famous Bravo Two Zero SAS team dropped into the north-western desert of Iraq in 1991 who succeeded in escaping across the Syrian border. Of the others, three were killed and four captured. Ryan’s story of the military debacle and of his own epic test of endurance was the subject of his first book, The One That Got Away, published in 1995. It was a bestseller and made his name.

A Geordie born in 1961, he joined the SAS in 1984, and then spent ten years in special forces, involved in covert and covert operations, and also serving as the sniper team commander of the anti-terrorist unit. His service has taken him to various world troublespots, including Northern Ireland and Central Africa. Now Florida-based, he runs a security business, lectures and advises on security matters, and is a prolific and best-selling writer.

As well as The One That Got Away, he has written two other non-fiction titles, Chris Ryan’s SAS Fitness Book and Chris Ryan’s Ultimate Survival Guide. But most of his writing is fiction, both adult and children’s. The latest in a long line of novels is our Book Club choice for this month: The Kill Zone.

The basic story is this. A British SBS unit has been ambushed in Afghanistan’s Sangin Valley. Three Stinger missiles go missing. SAS hero Jack Harker is charged with leading an eight-man mission into a suspected Taliban facility to recover the Stingers.

Meanwhile, in Belfast, Siobhan Byrne, a highly trained surveillance operative, is trying to track down Cormac O’Callaghan, a former IRA commander, a drug lord, and one of the country’s most ruthless criminals. The two operations become closely entangled and, in a race against the clock, Harker and Byrne join forces to uncover a plot that will take them across continents, and finally to London, where a ‘kill zone’ ambush, of the kind used by the Taliban on the plains of Afghanistan, is about to be set up in the heart of the city – when the US President is visiting.

Chris Ryan has long front-line experience in special forces operations. He has the insider knowledge to craft authentic fictional reconstructions of the modern ‘war on terror’. The Kill Zone is a fast-paced contemporary thriller with a real-life setting in conflicts that span Helmand Province, Mogadishu in Somalia, Belfast, and London.

Coronet/Hodder & Stoughton, £18.99

ISBN 978 1 444 710243

How convincing is it? Would you read another?  We want to hear reader’s reviews. Send your comments to We will publish a selection online and the best comments in the magazine itself.

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