Defender by Chris Allen

Defender by Chris Allen

‘Turner got rough, forcing them to respond. He tore at their hair and at their skintight lingerie, clawing at their perfect bodies.’

Well that certainly got your attention!

But there is much, much more to the works of Chris Allen than steamy interludes.

This author, him self has lived a very exciting life. Among other things he was a former paratrooper and served as Security Manager for CARE, the international aid agency in Timor Leste. He was also Head of Security for the Sydney Opera House and as the Sheriff of NSW.

The novels are a fascinating mix of James Bond and Jason Bourne, the gun to rent. Alex Morgan is an agent of Interpol’s Intelligence, Recovery, Protection and Infiltration Division – Intrepid.

The Australian Army Newspaper wrote, “Allen knows his weapons and aircraft particularly well, and his immense attention to detail shows he has obviously walked the streets of the cities where his character’s actions take place.”

In Defender, Morgan is ordered in after an intelligence agent is cruelly murdered with the life of the president of a small African country put at risk. Morgan is in part, soldier, spy and policeman who along with his colleagues puts bad things right.

The country is racing towards civil war and he enlists the help of the beautiful Arena Halls while operating under his cover of evacuating a group of aid workers. A façade to hide his actual mission – a rogue spy.

The action races between Africa and Australia, the home of the author. The finale, a fight to the death which uncovers a truly dark conspiracy.

A great well plotted novel, which is certainly not for storage, from, Chris Allen, a novelist who we will hear much more from in the future.

Dead Spy Running by Jon Stock

Dead Spy Running by Jon Stock

Dead Spy Running by Jon Stock

Jon Stock is an English author and journalist and former editor of the Weekend section of the UK’s Daily Telegraph. Dead Spy Running is scheduled to be made into a Hollywood film. Stock has previously worked in New Delhi, India and lived in Cochin in Kerala.

A suspended MI6 agent, Daniel Marchant, while running in the London Marathon notices a reluctant suicide bomber stalking the US ambassador. Marchant cannot stop without provoking the bomber into an early detonation. Marchant had been a victim in the internal wrangling that existed between Britain’s intelligence community, MI5 and MI6. He also had the suspicion of being a traitor hanging over him.

Daniel’s heroic efforts to prevent calamity at during the London Marathon are misconstrued as he is suspected of being in league with the terrorists and they are used to further demean him. MI5 set him up and he is betrayed by a mole. He then falls into the hands of CIA torturers finding himself variously interrogated and waterboarded.
Marchant’s MI6 colleague and lover – Leila and the new chief, Sir Marcus Fielding have come to resent the CIA’s increasing influence in Whitehall.

Marchant goes on the run from the CIA. He then goes on a hunt from Wiltshire, to Poland and on to India to find the terrorist in an attempt to expose the false accusations made against his father and him. It was in India that Marchant’s father once met with a senior terrorist. Proof of treason on his part, or part of an ingenious intrigue?
Stock’s novel is well researched, plausible and utterly contemporary. A well-executed spy novel, from a writer who clearly has his finger on the pulse of the modern, murky world of espionage.
Dead Spy Running is part of the Legoland Trilogy.

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An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris

An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris

An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris

Many of us will have heard of ‘The Dreyfus Affair’ and will remember it as a distant memory from history classes as a child, but I suspect, like me, your remaining knowledge will be selective and riddled with holes and inconsistencies. Such a shame when you consider this pivotal time in French military and political history before the First World War. It gripped a nation at the time and the world more generally. This novel has modern day parallels in the forms of anti-Semitism and whistle-blowers.

The 2013 novel, An Officer and a Spy is a 2013 is a fictional thriller based on these dramatic events in French history. It is written by the supremely talented and diverse journalist and writer, Robert Harris. The novel recalls the true story of the head of counter-espionage, Colonel Georges Picquart, in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

There had been some disquiet about the conviction of Dreyfus for spying and his subsequent incarceration on Devils Island off the coast of South America. An island made famous in the novel Papillon which was written by convicted criminal, Henri Charrière. Picquart began to investigate the evidence against Dreyfus, who was from a Jewish background, which he found to be very weak and that the government and military had manufactured or altered crucial evidence. Picquart was pressured to forget his findings despite his assertion that the actual spy was still operating.

Anti-Jewish feeling was running high at that time and Dreyfus initially had little public support, but following an open letter published by the highly respected writer, Émile Zola, the tide began to turn. The letter, J’accuse, was published in a French newspaper in January 1898 and was a damming indictment of the whole affair – the rest is history….as they say!

The Harris book is the recipient of the Walter Scott Prize and the American Library in Paris Book Award, both in 2014.

Harris has researched many newly released documents and many of the original sources such as newspaper reports, the court transcripts and Dreyfus’s own written recollections. This is a thoroughly enthralling spy and political intrigue thriller made all the more captivating as it is based closely on fact. Picquart is shown as a principled man who strives to expose the truth despite overwhelming opposition from superiors and his peers. His fate is utterly intertwined with that of Dreyfus and so is his final judgement. An Officer and a Spy is a superb novel which brings great clarity to the subject and is utterly thrilling.

Robert Harris was born in Nottingham in central England in 1957. Following a career in television and as a journalist he came to prominence with his best-selling novel, Fatherland. He has subsequently published a succession of top novels including Enigma, Archangel, Pompeii, Imperium, The Ghost which was made into a very effective and evocative film by Roman Polanski, The Fear Index and Dictator. He is, as you can see, a difficult man to pigeon-hole as his works are quite diverse and expertly crafted.

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A Small Death in Lisbon by Robert Wilson

A small death in Lisbon by Robert Wilson

A small death in Lisbon by Robert Wilson

I was recommended to the works of Robert Wilson by a friend of mine and I am glad I was. The espionage thriller, ‘A small death in Lisbon’, intrigued me and so, along with a love of all things Portuguese, I bought it.

Wilson is a British writer who currently lives in Portugal. He is the son of an RAF fighter pilot, and has a degree in English from Oxford. He was written crime novels based in Benin in West Africa, and also a series set mainly in Seville, in the Andalusian region of southern Spain. Born in 1957, the son of an RAF pilot,  he finished his studies with a degree in English at Oxford University which was clearly a good grounding for what was to come. Wilson won the CWA Gold Dagger for this book  and the German Crime Prize and rightly (or is it writely?) so.

 

A Small Death in Lisbon is an excellent novel by Robert Wilson and well worth the read. The story has several threads which intertwine into a lush tapestry a la finRobert Wilson sets the story in Portugal, which gives a wonderfully exotic air. It involves SS officers during the war and ranges through to sexual intrigue, murder and the contemporary investigations of Inspector José “Zé” Coelho.

Well done Robert!

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The Once and Future Spy by Robert Littell

The Once and Future Spy

The Once and Future Spy

The Once and Future Spy by Robert Littell is a novel about espionage and counterespionage involving the CIA. Stephen Coonts once said of Littell, “Eric Ambler invented the modern spy novel. Robert Littell perfected it. ‘The Once and Future Spy’ is a classic spy story.”
The plot involves a highly secret plan known only to a small group of specialists within Langley, the CIA headquarters. The plan was ultra-secret but someone has leaked it. There are deadly consequences for the plotters if they cannot trace the source. At the same time a CIA operative, known as ‘the Weeder’, is at work on a highly sensitive matter. The Weeder is obsessed with American history and a particular American hero. A clash occurs between the Weeder’s and Washington’s clandestine worlds creating difficult moral choices with far reaching effects.

Several of his novels have become New York Times and Washington Post bestsellers.

A clever, inventive novel from a world class fiction writer.

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