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Skeleton Key

by Anthony Horowitz

Attention would-be teenage spies: there's an important document to study here. Alex Rider rides again, this time thwarting an evil Russian general living like a cocaine godfather on a Caribean island off Cuba.

While on an almost-innocent mission to keep an eye on the Wimbldon tennis championships, Alex gets on the wrong side of a Chinese triad gang and gets sent on another 'easy' mission to get out of the way, babysitting a pair of non-too clued-up CIA agents who need to look like a family while they investigate The General.

The General likes WMDs, obviously, and isn't bothered too much about rubbing out inconvenient associates, or anyone else for that matter, although he does have a soft spot for boys like Alex.

And Alex of course thinks nothing of taking him on single-handedly, underwater, in the monster's lair, and in the air.

Horowitz does an admirable job of making the whole romp feel almost believable, except I'm still trying to get that megolamaniac General's logic to make sense. If anything, this is the book's weak spot, and I think the author, competant at describing SAS techniques, should perhaps go look at the world a bit harder and suss out some more believable bad guys to overcome; God knows, there's enough of them.

Seeing as how I usually get stung for these books to the tune of £7 each at Christmastime, we were quite pleased to pick up Skeleton Key and Eagle Strike for only £2 at a Watford charity shop.