Skeleton Key by Anthony Horowitz is an action-packed thriller with a very interesting plot-line. Everything that happens is important to the plot, enhancing it, giving a place to it. This is the third book in the Alex Rider series, but each could just about stand on their own feet, though I would recommend reading them in order. I am definitely going to be reading the others.
The main character in this story is, of course, Alex Rider. He is a spy who has been forced into working for MI6 against his will. This happens in the first book and then in the second he does another mission. In this story he goes to work for the CIA. The villain in this story is a Russian general, Alexei Sarov. He thinks Alex is just like his son who died in WW2, and wants to adopt him, but Alex, as he knows that the old general is a bit mad, desperately tries to escape. Sarov has a henchman, Conrad, who was blown up by a bomb he was carrying and stitched back together by a group of scientists that Sarov hired. Conrad tried to kill Alex straight away, but was stopped by the general, and throughout is wanting the general to allow him to shoot Alex.
Alex is tricked into going to help the CIA on a mission because there is a tribe trying to kill him in England. The mission is to “investigate Sarov” but as he later finds out they believe that he has nuclear material. The other agents Alex is with are killed by some of the high-tech security the general has installed around his island, and Alex becomes in the general's grip. Alex is amazed by the great lengths the general has gone to to make sure no-one gets on his island without him knowing. The rest of the story is about how Alex discovers the scale of what the Russian is planning, and desperately tries to warn the CIA and stop the general doing what he thinks is for the good of Russia.
Skeleton Key is written from the first person including all of Alex’s feelings and emotions. The language is very descriptive, including lots of details about what Alex can see around him:
You, Alex, are at the beginning of that process. You are about to be fed into the crusher. I ask you to imagine the pain that lies ahead of you. Your toes will enter first. Then you will be sucked in one centimetre at a time. After your toes your feet. Your legs and your knees How much of you will pass through before you are allowed the comfort of death?
This is Conrad describing to Alex how he will apparently die. It shows the details that Anthony Horowitz decided for Conrad to go to.
Anthony Horowitz has won many awards for his books. This is the third book in a series of eight. The first one, Stormbreaker, was made into a blockbuster film in 2006. The Alex Rider series has been a hit all over the world, since it was released ten years ago.
I really think this book is worth reading. This is one of the best spy books I have read and it’s full of adventure on every page. It really does keep you guessing to the end and I would recommend it to all teenagers. I think some adults would enjoy it too.