Book Review: Black Op by Tom Palmer

The National Trust has issued a list of 50 things kids should do before they are 12. They include rolling down a hill and flying a kite. The five children in Tom Palmer’s new series ‘The Sqaud’ would be in stitches; the  tasks they have to face include spying on the base of one of the world’s most dangerous terrorist cells and preventing the England team from being assasinated.

Lily, Lesh, Hatty, Adnan and Kester all have their own unique skills and all have one thing in common; their parents, secret agents before them, are  dead.  Now all they have is each other, especially after Rob, an original squad leader, is killed early on.

In book 1, Black Op, their new mission, assigned by their copper-haired commander Julia,  is both dangerous  and thrilling. Someone is planning to wipe out the England team during Euro 2012. They don’t know who they are but they do know where the would-be assasins are; somewhere near the Poland-Ukraine border. The Squad is the only unit who can prevent the murders taking place. They are flown into Poland, disguised as the England U13 defence, to work alongside Julia’s next-in-command Jim Sells, the U13s coach.

Although there’s nothing new in the genre of children-as-spies – Palmer acknowledges this in mentions of  Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider and Mark Walden’s H.I.V.E. books within the dialogue- it’s the football element that makes The Squad different. The football sub-plot – where the non-football playing child spies have to assimilate into the U13 team – gives the book that added dimension. It’s timely, too. EURO2012 is already mired in controversy with people calling for a boycott after the treatment of their former prime minster Yulia Tymoshenko. Historically Ukraine and Poland both have a rocky relationship with their neighbour Russia, home of all the best spy stories. The Squad series is bang on target.

You can download the first chapter from Tom’s website.

Suitable for: 8-12s

Readership: Boys and Girls


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