Things happen fast in W.G. Rowan’s debut novel about terrorists, spies and the Sicilian Mafioso. By page two of Ophidian (Bowker), British Special Agent Gregory MacNee is plunging into the North Atlantic from 40,000 feet, the result of a suicide bomber aboard his flight to London. 

Miraculously, MacNee survives. The narrative then backs up to tell how he got there. A seasoned agent for the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service (also known as M16), MacNee is called into action by his superior, a man known only as Mobius who is clearly calling all the shots. Mobius lays out the situation: a murdered M16 agent, a rogue Russian group looking to secure nuclear weapons to sell to Islamic terrorists and the undercover cooperation of an Italian mobster.

In a world of private jets and efficient international communication, MacNee and his colleagues, as well as his enemies, travel the world tracking down murderers, thieves, information, motives and money. 

A SUAVE PROTAGONIST WITH HIS WORK CUT OUT FOR HIM

The M16 agents are a talented bunch: multi-lingual Ivy-educated specialists in hand-to-hand combat, explosives, electronic espionage and military strategy. Together, they must stop this covert Russian operation from obtaining nuclear weapons or the brainpower to make them. Mobius instructs our man MacNee to  “… identify and eliminate all parties associated with this operation, and do it quickly …” 

The mission is clear, but not so simple. The job will take MacNee and his American counterparts all over the world, starting with a remote and exclusive volcanic island in the Mediterranean between Sicily and Tunisia. 

Rowan juxtaposes the murders and violence with the extravagant lifestyle of an M16 agent. Think Bond (James Bond) with his bespoke suits, martinis (shaken, not stirred) and beautiful women. MacNee, meanwhile, sips 18-year-old Glenlivet single malt, 40-year-old port and Dom Perignon Rosé. Every now and again he smokes a $40 impossible-to-find Cuban cigar. He orders lavish meals and flies on private jets. Rowan also makes sure his readers know how elegantly McNee dresses when he leaves his hotel, and, of course, the women in McNee’s bed are head-turning beauties. 

A MYSTERIOUS, MONOMANIACAL AND MERCILESS ENEMY

Gregory MacNee, however, is never distracted from his original mission for long. The kidnapping of a prominent nuclear physicist and the torture and the beheading of a Russian counsel minster raise the stakes. The reach of this mysterious organization is considerable while its monomaniacal leader is merciless and depraved. MacNee must find the man behind the diabolical plan: the man behind the organization.  

The name of the organization is Ophidian.

Rowan has created a world of glamour, danger and international intrigue where readers can escape to far-away beaches, fine restaurants, high-class casinos and limousines. Better yet, by including the words “A Gregory MacNee/M16Novel” on the cover Rowan seems to have made a promise that this is the first in a series. Even MacNee himself ruminates about his future at the very end of Ophidian but he ruminates at home, while drinking a healthy four fingers of Glenlivet in a large Saint-Louis Crystal double Old Fashioned cocktail glass. 

Buy this book!

About W.G. Rowan:

After retiring from a long career as an investment advisor, W.G. Rowan  and his wife spent time traveling the world. The couple gravitated to Europe because of Rowan’s love of England. Along with traveling, Rowan has always been an avid reader of history and mysteries,  and has reread the Agatha Christie novels multiple times. He is generally reading three or four books at a time and always looking for new titles. In addition to reading, Rowan also enjoys flying, scuba diving, surfing, skiing and exotic motorcycles and automobiles.