A review of the book ‘The Sett’ by Ranulph Fiennes. Published in 1996 by William Heinemann. London.
This incredible biography leaves the reader wondering ‘could this really be true?’ This mild-mannered archetypal man named Alex Goodman (not his real name), surely should be the hero of the next action-packed blockbuster. An accountant by profession, his life changes irrevocably on the afternoon of July 29, 1984, while he is walking through the woods with his wife and his daughter. After witnessing a horrendous slaughter of badgers, he is savagely beaten and unaware when he wakes up in a Birmingham hospital, suffering from traumatic amnesia. The following year, his memory gradually returns and what unfolds are fascinating ‘cat and nine lives’ scenarios as he seeks revenge for the callous murders of his wife and daughter. The search for his family’s killers ultimately takes nine years.
Ever since he regained his memory, Alex Goodman finds himself drawn into the world of the now defunct but notorious Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), the CIA, and the White House. He takes on drug dealers, illegal human organ dealers, nasty badger hunters, as well as murderers, using torture and extreme violence as a way of life. Could these events really happen to a quiet, family-oriented white-collar worker, who, after reading ‘The Feather Men,’ approached the author hoping he would tell his own story? Alex Goodman knew that he was dying. He wanted his story published. His determined motivation to avenge the death of his family is commendable. After being taken in and accepted by a criminal drug and manufacturing gang calling itself ‘The Family’, he was approached by US government agents to infiltrate the BCCI, as an employee to gain access to the information needed to bring down the Bank. .
Alex Goodman uncovered large-scale corruption involving the CIA, the White House, the systematic kidnapping and murder of South American children to obtain human organs to sell on the black market, and the operation of ethnic gangs within the United States and Great Britain. . Readers of this book will be intrigued by the detailed account of the events that take place. Throughout the book, events, names, and locations have been meticulously researched and supported with authentic documentation. This attention to detail is a hallmark of Fiennes’ writing and the reader will not be disappointed.
Goodman finds love again, but the union is short-lived. He befriends a prostitute, who after a while empathizes with this strange man who has appeared in her life, and learns to love again. She bears him a son, but Goodman’s tragedy is compounded when they are both killed while he hunts down the killer of his first family. Time and time again, Goodman has escaped the vengeance of the killers he hunts down, only to find that the friends and acquaintances he has made on this incredible quest are murdered.
‘The Sett’ is, without a doubt, one of the best books I have ever read. This ‘tour de force’ story evokes many emotions. The cruelty involved in killing badgers was almost unreadable. Many times I thought I couldn’t go on, but the compelling story drew me in every time. All animal lovers and animal liberation advocates will find these chapters difficult to digest and accept. The combination of violence, murder, and edge-of-your-seat scenarios make this book impossible to put down. Some readers may question the veracity of this book, and indeed, this story leaves you wondering, how can a normal, everyday man get caught up in the whirlwind of violence and intrigue that descended on Alex Goodman? As they say “You wouldn’t read about that!”
Sir Ranulph Fiennes is not only an accomplished author, he was also awarded the ‘Order of the British Empire’ by Her Majesty The Queen in 1993 for his efforts to raise £14 million for charity. He was named ‘Best Sportsman’ at the 2007 ITV Great Britain Awards and in 2009 he became the oldest British citizen to successfully summit Mount Everest. These gadgets pale in insignificance when viewed in the light of the trials and tribulations of Alex Goodman, a mere common man seeking only justice for the wrongs perpetrated against him by the evil men who lurk in the shadows of the world.