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

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

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

Alex Rider lands in the South Pacific after blowing up the Ark Angel in outer space. After his recovery, he is sent to a military base in Swanbourne, Australia, and spends some time with a few of the soldiers there. One day before his departure, he goes to a barbecue with them but finds himself on a minefield by accident, only narrowly escaping being killed by leaping off an armed landmine. Alex is puzzled by the incident.

Meanwhile, the criminal organization SCORPIA, as part of their mission to assassinate eight celebrities due to host a conference to rival the G8 summit on Reef Island (an island off the north-west coast of Australia), breaks into a Ministry of Defence weapons research centre and steals a prototype bomb code-named "Royal Blue", known to be more powerful and devastating than the daisy cutter. In Australia, Ethan Brooke, head of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), coerces Alex into helping him by pairing him with agent Ash, who was his godfather and once his father's best friend, to investigate the powerful snakehead ring under Winston Yu, after two failed attempts to infiltrate the organisation.

Alex then travels to Bangkok, Thailand where he meets Ash. He explains that he and Alex will take on the identities of Afghan refugees who have paid the snakehead to smuggle them into Australia. Throughout their journey they are to identify key members of the snakehead and find out their operations. After being disguised, they went to an area in Chinatown to await contact from the snakehead.

To collect the papers necessary for them to move on to Indonesia, Alex is told by a Snakehead member Anan Sukit to fight against the snakehead's toughest fighter in a Muay Thai boxing ring, which he wins by cheating. However, the unexpected victory incites a riot which Alex manages to escape when someone (later revealed to be a MI6 operative) cuts the lights and attacks. The next day, while Ash goes to the snakehead to retrieve the papers, Alex tails a suspicious-looking man who has been observing him since he landed in Bangkok. The man later 'captures' him, but Alex finds that he is Ben Daniels, an MI6 agent who had trained with him before.

Alex learns that the MI6 is trying to track down "Royal Blue" and Major Yu, whom they suspect is in possession of the bomb, is actually a board member of SCORPIA. He agrees to try and locate Royal Blue for MI6 and is given several gadgets by Smithers to use, 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.

After retrieving the papers, the two continue on to Jakarta, Indonesia; during the journey Ash shares about Alex's father, John, and Ash's botched mission in taking John out of SCORPIA, which despite being successful, led to the deaths of some MI6 agents. Ash was then demoted and eventually resigned from MI6, soon emigrating to Australia. In the snakehead's toy factory Unwin Toys, they are briefly apprehended by Kopassus, but Alex and Ash manage to board a container ship, the Liberian Star, but are separated. Alex escapes from his container by using one of his coins and explores the ship. He eventually finds Royal Blue, scanning his own fingerprints to gain control of the bomb after seeing Yu scanning his. However, he goes into hiding when Major Yu discovers Alex's breakout and orders a search for him. The next day, Alex escapes the ship and reaches Darwin while damaging the reefers. However, to Alex's dismay, Yu has found Ash, and threatens to shoot him if Alex doesn't turn himself in. He surrenders to Yu, who knocks him unconscious.

Alex wakes up and meets Yu over dinner, who after giving his life story, reveals his plan to cause a tsunami to destroy Reef Island and stop the conference, along with the west coast of Australia. Alex is then sent to a hospital in the Australian rainforest where he is to be used as an unwilling donor for illegal organ transplants, to pay for his damage to SCORPIA both in the 'Invisible Sword' project and on the Liberian Star. He uses the watch Smithers gave him to send a signal to MI6, which seemed not to work.

However, Alex manages to escape and establish contact with MI6. Along with Ben Daniels, Alex is sent as part of an SAS team to the oil rig where Royal Blue will be detonated underneath. On the oil rig, Alex and Ben confront Yu and his assistant Ash, whom Ben shoots at before being shot by Yu. Ash, before dying, confesses about being a double agent for SCORPIA following the botched mission and his involvement in the death of Alex's parents which Alex had already suspected. Yu escapes but Alex detonates the bomb early and it goes off relatively harmlessly; 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, unexpectedly calls Sabina Pleasure over for dinner, his old friend who moved to San Francisco after the events of Eagle Strike. Both discuss plans to visit a castle in Scotland. The epilogue shows Ash's involvement in the death of his parents.

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][2]

In CODA, it is explained how Ash betrayed the Rider's and joined SCORPIA.[2]

Awards

  • Galaxy British Book Award[3]
  • Berkshire Book Award[3]

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 Snakehead by Anthony Horowitz (primary)
  2. 2.0 2.1 http://www.alexrider.com/snakehead/snakehead.pdf
  3. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named walkersnake
Snakehead Characters
Main Characters
Alex RiderTulip JonesJack StarbrightEthan BrookeAshMajor Winston Yu
Other Key Characters
SmithersBen DanielsSabina PleasureBill TannerAnan SukitHermann De WynterMarc Damon


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