With Gently Smiling Jaws by Terry White is an unusual novel in that it is about large civil engineering contracts. It’s not actually about the engineering work but about winning and financing the deal. It sounds boring but actually this is an interesting and, in places, gripping novel.
Marcus Moon and his partner have a civil engineering company. They win bids for large infrastructure projects and then engage sub-contractors to do the work. As they are just starting out they owe a lot of money to the bank but a big contract is just about to finish and they will be paid off. It is at that point that their Middle-East “fixer” Mazin Al-Jabril reveals his personal chicanery and makes off with the final payment leaving them in deep trouble. What Mazin has done is legal but unethical and he has taken advantage of their naivety and trust.
Moving forward some years and Marcus is older and a lot wiser (and certainly more cautious) when the opportunity comes to win another big contract where Mazin is also involved. Can they use this contract as an opportunity to get their revenge on Mazin ?
I enjoyed the main part of this book and following the revenge story. It’s great fun and you are willing Marcus on to succeed. The author has also included a number of sub-plots also involving Marcus which I don’t think are as successful. Marcus’ love life is a bit of a mess and various encounters are included in the story which I don’t think really add to the overall narrative – I think they are trying to tell us something about Marcus as a person but they did distract rather. The author also gets Marcus into a couple of embarrassing situations which I think are meant to be funny but did make me cringe. This is a lightly amusing book because of the overall tone but these bits were over the top for me.
Despite these reservations I did enjoy this book more than I thought I would when I first picked it up. The main plot was very satisfying and easy enough to follow. I enjoyed the way that other characters became involved in helping with the revenge. This was part of my pre-loved monthly subscription with Ninja Books which sends me independently published titles which I may not otherwise have seen and this choice vindicates the subscription in that it is a book I would not have opened if it had not been sent to me but which I did enjoy.