Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Break Line (Max McLean #1)” as Want to Read:
The Break Line (Max McLean #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Break Line

(Max McLean #1)

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  234 ratings  ·  112 reviews
Officially, Max McLean doesn't exist. The British government denies all knowledge of the work he does on their behalf to keep us safe. But Max and his masters are losing faith in each other. And they've given him one last chance to prove he's still their man.

Sent to a military research facility to meet a former comrade-in-arms, Max finds the bravest man he ever knew locked
Published July 26th 2018 by Michael Joseph
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Break Line, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Break Line

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  234 ratings  ·  112 reviews

Sort order
Paula Kalin
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Spy thriller fans
Recommended to Paula by: Publisher
James Brabazon, award-winning war correspondent and filmmaker, has written a terrific action spy thriller debut. Max McLean is an assassin working for British Intelligence in a group of like individuals called the Unknown. Fast paced, with plenty of plot twists, The Break Line is a great start to a new series for those that enjoy a lot of action. Max is sent to Sierra Leone where all hell is breaking loose. There is something terrifying going on in the jungles of West Africa. Max gets into plent ...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Oct 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
”Almost every day began like that, robbed of clarity by a night of searing dreams. It was easier waking up in the war. Any war. At least I knew where I was then.”

Maximilian McLean has a problem. He makes a decision that goes against his orders. He lets a target live. A woman who does not fit the profile he has been given, but she has seen his face, so by protocol she is supposed to die anyway.

He lets her live because he doesn’t want to knowingly kill an innocent person. He has been trained to k
Max McLean is a member of an elite group of operatives working for British intelligence, paradoxically known as the Unknown.  In essence, these operatives do not exist.  An assassin deviates from the rules, a decision that will come back to bite him.  Meanwhile, there has been some sort of a horrible outbreak in Sierra Leone.  Who are the men, and which ones are the monsters?  Vengeance is being wreaked even as the smell of peppermint wafts in the air.    

This techno thriller started off slowly
Jul 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was one of my most anticipated thrillers of 2018 and so I nearly fainted when I nabbed an early copy. This is a difficult book to review without giving away major parts of the plot so I will be keeping my review succinct in order to avoid spoiling it for any potential readers who happen upon this. I knew this was right up my alley when I came across it many months ago online after the synopsis that grabbed my attention.

Wow, if this is what Brabazon can deliver I am super-stoked as to what i
Brenda - Traveling Sister
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

Now Available!

The Break Line is a fast-paced complex political spy thriller with plenty of action and violence to get your heart pounding. There are some gasp-worthy moments that could get your adrenaline going or leaving you gasping in shock and needing some recovery time before continuing.

James Brabazon creates a fascinating character here with our smart, cold and dangerous assassin Max McLean who grows a conscience and starts doubting his orders. Max is quite the hardcore character
Apr 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This Rollins-esque offering is part Hitman, part archaeological/bio tech thriller with some energetically described violence and a big dollop of horror. It’s fun and a bit silly, though if you’ve got no stomach for detailed gore, this definitely isn’t for you. It ticks a lot of boxes: crazy scientists ✔ Russian special forces ✔ ancient bio hazards ✔ infected supermen who just might eat your face ✔ etc etc. Even so, there’s a stiltedness to the language which really stops the flow and some bits t ...more
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Max McLean has been an assassin for over 20 years. He loses his anonymity when he aborts an assassination attempt, thus angering his employer MI6. He’s sent on a new mission, eliminating the unidentified leader of some rebels in Sierra Leone. It’s also a part of the world where Ebola is a threat. It turns out that there was a special reason why Max was selected for this mission. What follows is a mix of British, American and Russian agents and double agents. It’s never really clear who’s doing w ...more
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

That was one crazy ride! The last 40% was intense, fast-paced, and action-packed. The first 60%... not as much. There was some action, but it was a slow, slow burn.

I probably would have enjoyed this one a lot more if the book hadn't pitched to me because of my love of James Rollins' novels. It was very different from those, but the whole time I was expecting it to involve history, archaeology, tec
Linda Strong
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the author's debut thriller introducing Max McLean, a British Intelligence Operative and Assassin.

Handlers send Max to Sierra Leone where he finds someone ... or something ... is slaughtering innocent villagers. It's his job to find who is responsible, but maybe the London office consider him disposable.

This is a rather complex spy thriller loaded with action .... a real page turner. It's a well-written scary concept with an unexpected ending.

Many thanks to the author / Berkley Publishin
The Break Line is the first in Brabazon's gritty, bloody, Max McLean espionage series. Like Donald Hamilton's Max Helm, McLean is a trained killer who deals with his assignments not only with graphic violence but with an understanding of how the real world operates. His world is short, nasty, and brutish. McLean is a British spy, but not the suave debonair James Bond variety. The story takes place in War-torn Sierra Leone, a land with which Brabazon is intimately familiar, having traveled throug ...more
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
“The Break Line” is written by James Brabazon, a British award-winning war journalist, documentary filmmaker, and now a debut novelist. Honesty requires that I disclose I was given an advance copy of the book by the publisher with the hope that I would provide a review. This was the first time I have had an opportunity to do so, and the following opinions are wholly and truly mine and mine alone. No outside influence was exerted. If you disagree with assessment, I am alone to blame.

After readin
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: caro

The Break Line
Max McLean, Book #1
By James Brabazon
ISBN: 9780440001478
Author Website:
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Caro


British intelligence operative and hardened assassin, Max McLean, battles a nightmarish enemy in this stunning debut thriller from an award winning war correspondent.

When it comes to killing terrorists British intelligence has always had one man they could rely on, Max McLean. As an assassin, he’s never missed, b
Susan Kennedy
I really loved this book. It was fast paced and action packed, full of espionage straight from an assassin. I wanted to keep reading to get through it. It was riveting.

Max McLean is the main protagonist and I loved his character. It was really engaging right from the start. I'm definitely a fan of this type of book and when you get a really well done book, it is hard to put it down. From bullets flying to car chases, it was a great game of cat and mouse. It kept me intrigued from the beginning a
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Break Line- A Brilliant Debut Thriller

The Break Line is a brilliant debut thriller from James Brabazon and has brought his skills as a journalist and filmmaker to bear. He knows how to hook a reader and keep them hovering up the pages like an addict on crack.

This is one of the tautest thrillers out at the moment, dealing with the British covert operations, with a mix of Mi5 and Mi6 making an appearance. Along with the ‘unknowns’ British operatives who did the ‘wet’ work better known as killi
The Real Book Spy
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
British filmmaker and author of My Friend the Mercenary (2011), James Brabazon makes his fiction debut, introducing readers to an exciting new character cut from the same cloth as Jason Bourne.

To earn a license to kill, one must first be willing to kill on command, something Max McLean has never had an issue with when it comes to protecting his country. For the better part of two decades, McLean has served as an assassin, working for an off-the-books unit buried deep within the British governme
Mairead Hearne (

Published on 24th January with Penguin Books The Break Line is described as ‘a debut dripping with authenticity and menace. Smart, unputdownable and packed with irresistible set pieces and jaw-dropping plot twists, this is a thriller like no other.’

This is one book that sent my imagination into overdrive.

Read on to see why…

Max McLean is a phantom operative, working in the shadows and slipping through borders unknown. Max is a trained assassin, working for the Brit
The Lit Bitch
When I first started blogging, I wasn’t reading too many thrillers, let alone government thrillers.

But over the years, I have read a few here and the genre started to grown on me. Since I started blogging, I have increased my thriller base substantially.

Often though, I find that I am coming into a thriller series late in the game, with established characters and well developed subplots. When I had the opportunity to start this government thriller from the beginning, I eagerly said yes.

This is a
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Break Line is the first novel in the Max McLean series by award winning war correspondent, James Brabazon. His military experience is readily apparent in this, his first thriller. Brabazon’s observations and experiences as a correspondent have certainly allowed him to add more detail and depth to this political thriller.

Brabazon’s fictional assassin is Maximilian Ivan Drax Pierpoint Mac Ghill’ean, commonly known as Max McLean. At age nineteen, Max is tested and deemed a “legally sane psycho
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very exciting action/techno/horror thriller with pages that flew through the fingers. Undoubtedly very violent and gory, it has an intriguing 'anti/hero' at its heart. He doesn't expect you to like him (why would you?) but you'll certainly be rooting for him as he takes us deep into the African jungle. Review to follow shortly on For Winter Nights.
Marc VanDermeer
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Get ready Vince Flynn, Pike Logan, and all the other literary government tough guys; Max McLean is here, Northern Irelands produced an epic killer who’s working for England’s MI6, McLean is sent into the land of Joseph Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness, and Apocalypse Now, wrecking havoc on all those who oppose him, until he comes up against a killing machine that total obliterates it’s enemy with the efficiency of a sociopath and the terror of German SS. Get ready to strap in, lock and load.
Can’t wai
Cortney Sparks
Dec 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Max McLean, British intelligence operative and hardened assassin, battles a nightmarish enemy in this stunning debut thriller from an award-winning war correspondent.
When it comes to killing terrorists, British intelligence has always had one man they could rely on: Max McLean. As an assassin, he's never missed, but Max has made one miscalculation and now has to pay the price.
His handlers send him to Sierra Leone on what seems to be a suicide mission. What he finds is a horror from beyond his
Tracy (The Pages In-Between)
Thank you Berkley Pub for inviting me on to the Blog Tour and for providing me with an E- ARC in exchange of an honest review. All opinions are my own.

I rate this book a 3.5 out of 5 Stars.

This was a brilliant debut novel and I am very glad that I got to be a part of it. The writing was new and fresh, the plot was intense, and I felt like I flew through the pages. Granted I do not read a lot of this type of thrillers. So it’s a bit outside of my realm. For a newbie to the more action packed side
Aug 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Part McNab part Rollins part Reilly. Solid popcorn read about hitman military type special agent in Africa. Deals with so much gore and action it becomes a little bit silly torwards the end. Good fun to pass the time if you want that fluff/popcorn read but not much more.
David Morgan
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I survived the runaway train that is The Break Line! What started out as a hired assassin story became an intriguing science fiction thriller. Max McLean is an off the grid assassin for a British intelligence agency. After disobeying an order to kill he is sent to Sierra Leone on what looks to be a suicide mission with no clear instructions as to what the mission really is. He quickly realizes he is an expendable asset. What he finds there is totally unexpected. This fast paced rollercoaster rid ...more
Jay Dwight
Sep 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Plenty of action in this one, that I can picture being a big budget action film. Totally unbelievable, but quite a ride.
Claire Meaden
Aug 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Where to start with this review? It’s a tough one. You see I found it quite hard to read but I don’t think that is due to any lack of writing talent by James Brabazon (seriously – how cool is his name?), but more because this novel is of a genre I don’t tend to read a lot and I think I came up short at times with my understanding of certain things.

This is a fast-paced action thriller set around a secret mission to Sierra Leone. I found the first few chapters pretty hard to understand as there wa
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
From the start, I wasn't too keen on the writing style, but I continued on, trying to find what had kept the editor from putting down the manuscript. Where it gets interesting (about p233) is where the plot becomes more & more implausible. It was okay to pass the time, but so were the movies on Mystery Science Theatre 3000. I received an ARC from a Goodreads giveaway.
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
Let's welcome Max McLean to the hall of badass action heroes!
This story, with implacable pacing and unyielding suspense, is about one man's mission into a West African hellhole.

Max McLean is a British intelligence operative of 23 years. A master assassin. He has never missed.
He is a member of an elite group known as "the Unknown". They are ex- military and other ex-agents tasked with missions that no one else can be seen to do. They ultimately answer to the Foreign Office.

After fouling up an op
Jun 25, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was written in the fast paced action style of James Rollins and Matthew Riley. Most of the spec stuff that was described was completely over my head, but it added to the story. I liked that the book was mostly set in Africa and I enjoyed the description of the landscape. The detailed description of the London pub was spot on and I could literally see the confrontation scene unfold (such a good whodunnit). I also liked that some characters popped up again unexpectedly throughout the boo ...more
Jack Reacher on speed
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Malta Exchange (Cotton Malone, #14)
  • Wicked Game (Robert Finlay, #1)
  • The Dead Beat
  • The Throwbacks (Scotland Yard Exchange Program #1)
  • Trofæ (Jensen & Sander #1)
  • Old Enemies
  • The Whispering Wind (The Kingdom of Northumbria #1)
  • Death Wore White (DI Peter Shaw & DS George Valentine #1)
  • Redemption (Ryan Drake, #1)
  • Room Nineteen
  • Jacquot and the Waterman (Daniel Jacquot, #1)
  • Mini Knitted Toys: Over 30 cute & easy knitting patterns
  • No Place to Die (Sean Richardson #1)
  • The Concubine (Unexpected Circumstances, #5)
  • Fresh Blood (Max Wolfe, #2.5)
  • A Beautiful Corpse (Harper McClain, #2)
  • The Tower of Babel
  • Beloved Impostor (Beloved Trilogy, #1)

Other books in the series

Max McLean (2 books)
  • All Fall Down (Max McLean #2)