Author: Christian Beck
Publisher: DSP Publications
Length: 200 Pages
At a Glance: Great for old time mystery/thriller lovers who want an updated social atmosphere.
Reviewed By: Ben
Blurb: Highly decorated Delta Force operator and Iraq war hero Simon Monk loses everything when his romantic partner defects to Beijing after being caught selling US secrets to Chinese Intelligence. Monk is drummed out of the Army from the blowback but gets a second chance at a career when he is recruited into a covert group within the CIA.
Years later Monk’s latest assignment sends him to Cairo, where the head of station has disappeared amid a highly publicized sex scandal. But things are not what they seem. When the base chief turns up dead and the Egyptian government looks the other way, Monk and his team hunt down the assassin.
All roads lead to a ruthless and lethal cult from Egypt’s ancient past who discard every unwritten rule of espionage to win. Monk is forced to take to the shadows to find and destroy his most dangerous adversaries yet, as a chain of events threatens to ignite war in the Middle East.
Review: If someone put a gun to my head and demanded I chose only one genre as my favorite to read of all time, I’d have to choose mystery/thrillers. Ideally, it’d be some form of speculative fiction with a LGBTQ+ protagonist because that’s how I roll. I love my action/adventure novels, so when I saw The Last Enemy by Christian Beck pop up on the upcoming release charts, it seemed like just the thing for me. There are many good things to say about this book, but I adored how it took a sort of classic spy novel and gave it an intense social revamp.
The main character is gay, and not just twirl-the-umbrella gay, but gay gay. Monk isn’t looking for love, and he’s not a playboy by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s a breath of fresh air compared to the typical James Bond style characters I’m used to in spy novels. Even though Monk’s situation could have allowed the author to gloss over the social implications of being gay in this field of work, he doesn’t. There’s no “okay homo.” Though he’s not in the closet, Monk has had to make some tough calls in the past, and the nature of his work means he isn’t as free to love as most of his peers. His current assignment puts him right in the middle of a country downright hostile against homosexuality, so it’s essential for him to quickly identify who his friends are… but he’s made mistakes before.
Women get a modern update—the female characters were kick-ass and probably my favorite characters in the book. Considering the military is mostly comprised of men, and with how easy it can be to write gay literature as an “all boy’s club,” I deeply respected the author’s female characters and how they contributed to the story. Female characters in spy novels of old would be super proud of how far they’ve come.
Finally, I enjoyed how current issues were being addressed. This isn’t a Cold War spy novel, and though the style is reminiscent of old, it’s not noir or campy by any stretch of the imagination.
My main critique would be the writing style. It’s written in third person omniscient (the reader hops from one person’s head to another without a page break), which isn’t my favorite, and I didn’t think it aided the storytelling. It also didn’t feel necessary. Mainly it was difficult to identify with the protagonist because of the near absence of deep point of view, but in full disclosure, I didn’t I realized it was written in third person omniscient until twenty percent or so through the story. However, once I caught on, I couldn’t unsee it.
You can buy The Last Enemy here: