Carl Logan dedicated nearly twenty years of his life to the Joint Intelligence Agency. Now living in a secret location, under the new identify of James Ryker, he wants nothing more than to be left alone, the chance to start a new life away from chaos, violence, destruction and deceit.
It’s not long, however, before Ryker’s short-lived idle is destroyed when he is tracked down by Peter Winter, his ex-boss at the JIA. Winter brings with him news of the murder of a woman in Spain, Kim Walker, whose fingerprints match those of one of Ryker’s former adversaries who’s been missing presumed dead for years - an infamous female assassin known as the Red Cobra.
A cyberattack at the JIA led to the Red Cobra’s profile being compromised, and Winter believes JIA agents may now be at risk too, Ryker included. But Ryker knew the elusive Red Cobra better than anyone, and when he sees the grisly pictures of Kim Walker’s corpse, he has news for Winter - she isn't the assassin at all ...
So just who is the mystery dead woman? And where is the real Red Cobra?
The Red Cobra is a fast-paced thriller filled with twists and turns and intrigue that will appeal to readers of big-hitting thrillers by the likes of Lee Child and David Baldacci, and with echoes in its plotting and breadth of the globe-trotting spy thriller I Am Pilgrim.
The Red Cobra - the story behind the book
When I put pen to paper (well, finger to key really) on my latest release, The Red Cobra, I had three concepts in my head that I somehow needed to connect, but little by way of detailed plot. That’s how I start all of my books - not with a fully formed storyline with fleshed out and rounded characters, but just with some overarching ideas, perhaps a couple of specific scenes, and I build the story from there, the drafting process essentially being me telling the story to myself.
With The Red Cobra, I knew well before I started that it would be a follow-on to the Enemy series of books. Carl Logan, the hero of those books, was just too important a character for me to put to one side, even though the series had ended at a seemingly good point of closure. Because of that closure, I was also absolutely determined to make The Red Cobra a new start point. I’d already put Logan through so much in the three Enemy books that by the end of Hunt for the Enemy, it felt like it would be almost too implausible (even for thriller fiction!) to think of another connected (and concocted) scenario. I needed to start fresh with Logan in a new time and place, but make it so that readers of the Enemy series would be under no illusion that this was still the same Logan. This culminated in the idea of Logan’s new identity, James Ryker. It made absolute sense to me that Logan would have moved as far away from his life in the JIA as he could - new identity, new location, new outlook on life. But, at the same time, his history is so convoluted and twisted and murky that it had to be his past life that spoiled his new-found idyll.
So what could be so big that could draw a man who wants nothing more than to live a life of solitude and safety back out into the open, placing himself and his way of life in peril in the process? The answer was The Red Cobra. I’d long toyed with the idea of writing a book about a female assassin, and had an idea in my head as to what her backstory would be. I can’t remember where that came from, just a spot of daydreaming I’d done one day! Suddenly it made sense to use that character for Ryker. I’d perhaps intended that character to be the star of her own book initially, but something I heard another writer say a long time ago, which I’ve always agreed with, is that as a writer you should never let ideas go to waste by holding them back for the future, on the off chance you might one day use them, if you can actually use them in the present. So my female assassin became The Red Cobra, who had a complicated history with Logan, back in the day when he was an elite JIA agent. I always like the idea of delving into Logan’s past - it gives the reader (and me) a really good grasp of how he’s got to where he is today, and shows just what he is still capable of now (particularly when under threat), even though he's trying his hardest to just be normal. For this book, though, because I was using my female assassin idea early, if you like, I wanted to make the most of it, so couldn’t just make her a simple adversary of Ryker’s. Instead she became the character who the whole story is centred on, and I believe she’s got further potential yet - possibly in a sequel, or maybe even a prequel.
Those two concepts were therefore the basic elements of the plot, but there was one other important consideration that actually came from a real life experience: the setting. I was on holiday with my wife and sons and parents, staying in a traditional white-washed Andalusian village up in the Sierra de Mijas mountain range. On an impromptu visit to the town centre, we happened upon a square where a local dance group had erected a makeshift wooden stage for a flamenco performance. There were probably a hundred or so tourists and locals crammed around the stage for the performance, in the blistering midday heat. I’m the first to admit I’m no dancing, or flamenco expert, but there was something about the performance that was mesmerising: the combination of the music, the dress, the movements, but most importantly for me, the absolute passion on the faces of the dancers. You could see the story of the dance by those facial expressions: happiness, love, but then for other songs there was more intensity, almost anger there too. I knew I had to have a scene in the book that depicted what I’d seen, and to have a dancer who was not just mesmerising to look at, but where that raw intensity of the dance wasn’t just an act, but part of her character - a real black sheep. That Black Sheep, Eva, actually becomes one of the most important characters in The Red Cobra, and the scene where Ryker first spots her dancing in the square is one of my favourite of the book. I went on to use many more elements of my time in Andalusia in the story - not least the trip Ryker takes to Ronda and the bullring, along with other settings within the area. I may not be a trained assassin in real life, but I like to at least partly stick to the well-worn adage of ‘write what you know’!
Rob is the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling Enemy series of espionage thrillers featuring embattled agent Carl Logan, with over 200,000 copies sold to date. The Enemy series has received widespread critical acclaim with many reviewers and readers having likened Rob's work to authors at the very top of the genre, including Lee Child and Vince Flynn.
Rob's fourth book, the pulsating psychological thriller Dark Fragments, released by Bloodhound Books in November 2016, has been described as 'clever' and 'chilling' and an 'expertly crafted' story, and became an Amazon UK top 50 bestseller soon after its release.
Rob's forthcoming James Ryker series follows on from the Enemy books, with the first novel, The Red Cobra, being released in April 2017.
Rob began writing in 2009 following a promise to his wife, an avid reader, that he could pen a ‘can’t put down’ thriller. He worked for nearly 13 years for a global accounting firm after graduating from The University of Nottingham in 2002, specialising in forensic fraud investigations at both national and international levels. Rob now writes full time.
Originally from the North East of England, Rob has lived and worked in a number of fast paced cities, including New York, and is now settled in the West Midlands with his wife and young sons.