Nowadays many late greats’ names are used while publishing an original new work. One such eminent author is Robert Ludlum, whose legacy is being carried forward by Erich Von Lustbader, the second is Sidney Sheldon.
Sheldon, a prolific bestseller, penned some of most memorable works like The Other Side of Midnight, Rage of Angels and Best Laid Plans. His forays into other media include TV show I dream of Jeannie, among others. Now, his legacy has been passed on to Bagshawe.
The book kicks off in a typical Sheldon-esque fashion. An ageing Greek mobster and various other people discover a tiny detail on the back of a drowned refugee child. Athena Petridis, a criminal mastermind, and her husband were thought to have died several years ago in a helicopter crash. Her opponent is Ella Praeger, the titular ‘Phoenix’, who is described as ‘The Group’s new secret weapon’, the human receiver, the biological super-camera, an intelligence tool beyond the dreams of even the CIA. Ella is a bit of a Supergirl, thanks to genetic enhancements. The Group is a vigilante organisation meting out justice whenever law fails to do so. The crash that apparently killed Petridis was one of their successful missions.
Ella was raised single-handedly by her grandmother, who is no more. Soon, she is contacted by the charming and mysterious Gabriel, who works for The Group. Ella knows nothing about her parents, and Gabriel fills her in with as much information as the Group deems safe.
Soon, a reluctant Ella joins the group. However, her personal mission is to find and punish her parents’ killers. Mark Redmayne, who heads The Group, sees her as a means to find Petridis and her successor Makis Alexiadis.
The action now shifts to the lush Greek islands. Gabriel and Ella have one brush with death after another. However, unlike Sheldon’s other villainous men, for instance The Other Side of Midnight’s Constantin Demiris, Makis is strictly a one-note villain. He is a ruthless psychopath and nothing much else. The book picks up pace as it reaches its midpoint. Ella’s superpowers really come into play here, and even the most outrageous sequences seem somewhat plausible.
However, it is towards the end that the story begins to stumble big time. It begins to drag and the ending really screams a sequel. It is a good enough book, but at least here, Bagshawe is not the master of the game.