He barely knows anything about his parents, or even his uncle Ian that used to look after him, up until he was killed in action during an MI5 mission. Alex has missed out on several classes four times, and I can't even imagine the nightmare of work and humiliation that could bring on a person. Scorpia is his main priority first. Who are they? Why is it that everyone around Venice where he and his loyal friend Tom are staying, always stutter when Scorpia is mentioned? How is it Alex's destiny?
Minor spoilers: Scorpia is MI5's arch enemy, a government of killers led by a half-white-half-black man named Nile with a wealthy gal named Julia Rothman. And what they are about to show Alex will change his way of life forever. Now all of a sudden, things are confusing. Did she really order the death of Alex's father? Is Alex's destiny to become a undercover paid murderer??
Until this entry, all of the Alex Rider books had very different chase sequences, but almost all the villains were similar when it came to what they wanted in the end for the world, and it was even a little hard to really loathe them, with a cheesy capture or two in between. This time, nobody knows for sure who the antagonist is, and every chapter has a heartfelt gravity to it. There is a scene where Alex is sentenced to death by drowning, in a fish tank with rising water underneath the streets of Venice, and the pain of trying to escape it prevented me from putting the book down and my stomach kept dropping. There's a character I was set up to really hate and be afraid of, and perhaps I stayed a little afraid, but he turns out not that bad and even family-like. This gives an even bigger freshness to not just the book, but the entire series. The freshness also created a tiny mystery that I couldn't dive into, but I did find a clue vastly familiar but faint.
Now, in the end, this book isn't perfect, pretty much only because of a character death that didn't deserve to happen, but when that's the only thing wrong with the book, hanged with more suspense and even more sunshine, it's hard to see this series ever being more enjoyable. It's a gunslinger of an entry.