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Snakehead

Author

Anthony Horowitz

Release date

April 7, 2008 (UK) September 4, 2008 (North America)

Pages

416 (UK)
400 (North America)

Publication order
Preceded by
Ark Angel
Followed by
Crocodile Tears


Can Alex Rider survive the poison of the Snakehead?

—Snakehead tagline

This article is about the book; you may be looking for the criminal organization Snakehead.


Snakehead is the seventh book in the Alex Rider series by british author Anthony Horowitz.[1]

Summary

Walker Books (UK)

When Alex Rider crashes down on the Australian coast, the Australian Secret Service recruits him to infiltrate one of the ruthless gangs operating in Southeast Asia. Known as snakeheads, the groups smuggle drugs, weapons, and worst of all, people. Alex accepts the assignment, in part for the chance to work with his godfather (Ash) and learn more about his parents. What he uncovers, however, is a secret that will make this his darkest and most dangerous mission yet.... and the knowledge that his old enemy, Scorpia, it is anything but out of his life.

Plot

The story picks up moments after Ark Angel ended. Alex Rider lands in the South Pacific after falling from outer space. He is picked up by the USS Kitty Hawk, a US Aircraft Carrier doubling as a "hospital at sea", where he recovers from his trip into space. He then goes to a military base and goes on a barbecue with a few of the troops there and finds himself on a war field by accident.

[1] Meanwhile, the criminal organization SCORPIA attempts to change the world following their previously failed attempt to massacre the children in Britiain. The group is hired to assassinate eight celebrities who are hosting a "make poverty history"-type conference on Reef Island, an island off the north-west coast of Australia, using an experimental bomb (which they must first steal), at the same time as the G8 summit. The deaths must look accidental. Scorpia board member Winston Yu, the head of a powerful Asian snakehead gang, is charged with this mission. Two days later, SCORPIA agents break into a Ministry of Defence weapons research centre and steal the prototype bomb codenamed "Royal Blue."[1][2]

Ethan Brooke, head of ASIS (Australian Secret Intelligence Service) coerces Alex into helping him about by pairing him with agent Ash, who was his godfather and once his father's best friends, to investigate the snakehead ring.

Alex travels to Bangkok where Ash explains their plan; he and Alex will take on the identities of Afghan refugees who have paid the snakehead to smuggle them into Australia. In this way, they can identify important members of the snakehead and find out how exactly they smuggle the refugees. They are given disguises and sent to an area in Chinatown to await contact from the snakehead.[1]

Alex is accidentally taken to an illegal Muay Thai boxing arena by a member of the snakehead and put up against the snakehead's toughest fighter, Sunthorn. Alex wins by cheating: he spits into Sunthorn's eye. The unexpected victory incites a riot, but Alex manages to escape when someone (later revealed to be a MI6 agent) cuts the lights and attacks.

The next day, while Ash goes to the snakehead to see where things stand, Alex tails a suspicious-looking man who has been observing him since he landed in Bangkok. The man turns the tables and captures him, but Alex finds that he is Ben Daniels, an MI6 agent who had trained with him before (as Fox). Alex is then briefed about "Royal Blue" by Tulip Jones, and learns that Major Yu is a member of SCORPIA. He agrees to try and locate Royal Blue for MI6 and is given several gadgets by Smithers, including a watch with a homing beacon for MI6 to find him, three exploding Thai coins (one baht, five baht, and ten baht) and a belt equipped with jungle survival gear.[1]

The snakehead is still willing to take Ash and Alex to Australia. They go on to Jakarta, Indonesia, the next step of their journey. Despite a brush with Kopassus, the Indonesian special forces, in the snakehead's toy factory, Alex and Ash make it to a port and discover a container ship, the Liberian Star. The two of them are separated and put into different containers, which are loaded onto the ship. While the boat is at sea, Alex escapes by using one of his coins and explores the ship. He eventually finds Royal Blue and sees Major Yu scanning his fingerprints into a machine that will give him sole control over the bomb. Once Yu is gone, Alex scans his own fingerprints into Royal Blue and goes into hiding when Major Yu, who heard that there is a boy who escaped from the containers, orders that he be captured. Alex hides under Yu's bed while the crew searches the ship, overhearing a conversation between the major and the ship's captain - this leads him to realize there is a traitor somewhere, for Yu already knew about Alex even from the start. The next day, Alex then escapes the ship using another coin. After this Ash is caught and held hostage, forcing Alex to surrender.

Alex is then knocked out and captured by Yu. When Alex wakes up he is invited to tea with Yu, but his drink is drugged following a conversation with the officer causing Alex to become weak and he finally faints. Alex is sent to a hospital in the Australian rainforest where he is to be used as a donor for illegal organ transplants. Alex escapes using his final exploding coin. After kayaking down the river and being shot at, Alex attempts to contact MI6. Alex discovers that there is no battery in his watch, and shorts a circuit from a battery in his trainers and is rescued by MI6. Along with Ben Daniels, Alex is sent as part of an SAS team to the oil rig where Royal Blue will be detonated.[1]

On the oil rig, Alex and Ben confront Yu and his assistant; Ben shoots the assistant, who is revealed to be Ash; he had become a double agent for SCORPIA following the botched mission to kill a drug dealer. Yu escapes and triggers the sinking of Royal Blue. Alex detonates it prematurely and it goes off with relatively minimal damage; the only casualty is Yu, who is killed in the resulting shock wave due to his inordinately fragile bone structure.

At the end of the novel, Jack Starbright, Alex's housekeeper, calls a mysterious person over for dinner. Alex is surprised to see the guest is Sabina Pleasure, his old friend who moved to San Francisco after the events of Eagle Strike.[1][3]  

Missing Chapter

A chapter that was cut out of the first edition of the Snakehead novels (called "CODA") is available online here and in the most recent publications.[1][4]

In CODA, it is explained how Ash betrayed the Rider's and joined SCORPIA.[4]

Awards

  • Galaxy British Book Award[2]
  • Berkshire Book Award[2]

Useful Links

Trivia

  • As of Russian Roulette, this novel contains, by far, the highest number of secondary and tertiary antagonists compared to any other book.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Snakehead by Anthony Horowitz (primary)
  2. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named walkersnake
  3. Eagle Strike by Anthony Horowitz (primary)
  4. 4.0 4.1 http://www.alexrider.com/snakehead/snakehead.pdf


Snakehead Characters
Main Characters
Alex RiderTulip JonesJack StarbrightEthan BrookeAshWinston Yu
Other Key Characters
SmithersBen DanielsSabina PleasureBill TannerAnan SukitHermann De WynterMarc Damon

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