Review of ‘Incognito’ by Khaled Talib

Incognito by [Talib, Khaled]Review originally prepared for ‘Big Al & Pals. Received a complimentary review copy.

Genre: thriller

Description: Here is some of what is posted on Amazon about this book: “Pope Gregoire XVII was last seen waving to the crowd at Saint Peter’s square from the famous Apostolic Palace window. Despite several layers of tight security, neither the Gendarmerie nor The Entity (the Vatican’s secret service) or the Swiss Guards claimed to know anything about his sudden mysterious disappearance… Ayden Tanner, a former British SAS commando officer — who is officially dead — is dispatched with two other crew members to find the Supreme Pontiff by The League of Invisible Knights, a covert division of Anonymous that aims to bring about the triumph of good over evil.” Great premise! (BTW: other readers may be puzzled, as I was, by references to the ‘Gendarmerie’. This is the Vatican’s police force.)

Author: Khaled Talib has worked in journalism and in public relations. He has written three novels since 2014 – SMOKESCREEN, INCOGNITO and GUN KISS. He is a member of the Crime Writers Association and International Thriller Writers. He lives in Singapore.

Appraisal: The puffs for this book claim kinship with the likes of Dan Brown and Robert Harris. That’s a broad church. And a big claim. Talib knows (as all good writers need to) a little bit about a lot of things. I enjoyed much of the material about the Vatican, the information about Turkey and Egypt, and about recent European politics (although I was puzzled to find reference to Italian ‘lire’ since Italy has been using the Euro since 1999). There is a definite ‘Mission Impossible’ vibe, as well as a substantial nod to our old friends the Knights Templar.

This is, at bottom, a story about fake news. Very topical. The Prologue sets the scene beautifully. The prose in it is taut and lyrical. The necessary backstory is laid before the reader. Now the story can hit the ground running …

There is plenty of action in the book. Fights abound. It is a teeny spoiler to let on that our protagonist and his ‘crew’ are ambushed so many times that one begins to wonder just how good they are at what they do.

I found it peculiar that, despite all the action, no progress seemed to be made with finding the kidnapped Pope for the first third of the book.

I also found the swathes of description and backstory (what does Maria have to do with anything?) slowed pace and made it more difficult to follow the machinations of the large cast of characters as they whizzed about Europe from Geneva, to Rome, to Istanbul, to the Sinai Desert.

Approximate page count: 268 pp

Get it from AmazonUK here:

Or from AmazonUS here:



Published by Judi Moore

Hi there, I hope you find something to interest you here. In December 2017 I published my fourth book – ‘Wonders will never cease’. It’s a satirical campus novel set in the fictional Ariel University in 1985. If you enjoyed Tom Sharpe’s Porterhouse novels, Willy Russell’s ‘Educating Rita’, David Lodge’s campus novels or Malcolm Bradbury’s ‘The History Man’ back in the day, you may enjoy revisiting the ivory towers of 1980s’ academe thirty years on. See what you think. “It is December, 1985. The year is winding gently towards its close until Fergus Girvan, a Classicist at Ariel University, finds his research has been stolen by the man who is also seeking to steal his daughter. But which man is, actually, the more unscrupulous of the two? And is there hope for either of them?” In the autumn of 2015 I published a volume of short fiction: 'Ice Cold Passion and other stories'. I am also the author of novella 'Little Mouse', a shortish piece of historical fiction which I published in 2014 and, a sequel to it, 'Is death really necessary?', my eco thriller set in the near future and which, confusingly, I published in 2009. All the books are available from all good online bookshops and FeedARead on paper, and as e-books on Kindle. On a semi-regular basis, and about a month after the event, I post here reviews which I do for Big Al & Pals, the premier reviewer of indie books, based in the States. My interests tend to thrillers, SF, magic realism and other quirky stuff. On this blog are also posted the reviews I did for Leighton Buzzard Music Club over some five years up to the end of 2015. LBMC present annual seasons of eight monthly chamber music concerts at the Library Theatre in Leighton Buzzard, Bucks. They select young musicians just beginning to make their name - and the concerts are usually magnificent. I was very proud to be associated with them. I review other music, books, theatre and exhibitions which I've particularly enjoyed. BTW - it says the link to Facebook is broken. I dispute that. Click it and see, why not?

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