Moskva by Jack Grimwood

Moskva, written by Jack Grimwood

Jack Grimwood is a British writer who was born in Malta. His novel, Moskva, is a taut serial killer thriller and a magnificent piece of fiction.

In the mid-1980s a body of a naked man is found, it’s right hand little finger missing. It’s location, just beside the exterior of the wall of the Kremlin.

Shortly afterwards a fifteen year old girl vanishes. It is particularly concerning because she is the daughter of the British Ambassador.

Recently posted to Moscow, the disgraced military officer, Tom Fox, is entrusted with finding her. He sees a chance to redeem himself. However, the Soviets will not acknowledge the serial killer and cannot identify him and they do not want Fox poking his nose in.

The Soviets are determined to keep a lid on things and to hide the evil that lurks within their system.

Fox is on a race against time to prevent the girl from becoming the next murder victim.

This Cold War thriller is cleverly plotted and beautifully written, evoking another time and another place.

If his novel, Moskva, is anything to go by then Jack Grimwood is a man to watch….and most definitely to read!

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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Six Days of the Condor by James Grady

Six days of the Condor by James Grady

Six days of the Condor by James Grady

American, James Grady wrote the thriller Six Days of the Condor which was first published in 1974. Grady next released a further novel following this success in 1978 called the Shadow of the Condor. Six Days of the Condor was set in Washington, D.C., and varies greatly from the film that was made in 1975 with actors Robert Redford, Max von Sydow, Faye Dunaway and Cliff Robertson.

The film, for some reason was titled Three Days of the Condor and seems to be the better known name.

Grady has written a clever, intricate novel that has a clever and believeable premis. The character, Ronald Malcolm’s job is to read the spy and mystery novels and to analyse their content and report on it. Do people really get paid for this as it’s a job made in heaven for me! Anyway, Malcolm is actually working for the CIA and is based in a secret office in Washington, D.C. By chance, Malcolm goes for lunch using an exit in the basement. On his return Malcolm finds that all of his collegaues have been shot and killed. He knows that he has had a lucky escape and that he is in danger and he immediatly calls a contact at the CIA headquarters.

On calling Malcolm gives his code name, Condor, and is ordered to meet CIA operatives. However, he fortunately survives a trap and goes on the run.

Malcolm has no where to hide and at random kidnaps a paralegal called Wendy Ross who he entreats to assist him….

I don’t want to give away too much. This is a great read in the classic style and well worth taking to the beach or on a commuter train.

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A Delicate Truth by John le Carré

A Delicate Truth Novel by John le Carré

A Delicate Truth by John le Carré

 

After 9/11 the gloves came off in the espionage field and in the war on terror as Western governments grappled with this new and brutal threat from al-Qaeda.

A Delicate Truth is John le Carré’s 23rd and novel and details the conflicts between conscience, duty and the murky wworld of government cover-ups.

Toby Bell, a decent young man and private secretary to a British foreign minister, hears of a counter-terrorism operation on the crown colony of Gibraltar.

Codenamed Wildlife, the operation is being mounted in Britain’s most important colony. The plan is to capture and abduct a top jihadist arms-buyer. Toby is not cleared for it due to it’s high level secrecy and it is planned by a Foreign Office Minister and a private defence contractor.

Throughout the book there is a whiff of le Carré and his own journey through life.

The book shows the change in the world of espionage since 9/11 and it’s increasing militarisation.

The novel follows Toby as he tries to do the right thing while the plot dances around the Foreign Office corridors.

John le Carré at his best.

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The Kill List by Frederick Forsyth

The Kill List Novel by Frederick Forsyth

The Kill List by Frederick Forsyth

What can I say about Forsyth!….a giant of a writer who’s meticulous research just oozes out of the pages. I live in expectant anticipation for each new novel. Frederick Forsyth is a true master of the thriller genre.

The Kill List is highly topical, scarey and cleverly plotted. A terrorist who delivers online radical sermons and who has come to be known as The Preacher has incited some Muslims to carry out assassinations. A retired US Marine general is one of their victims, but his son is a terrorist hunter.

The terrosit hunter enlists the helps of a teenage computer geek with Asperger’s Syndrome. The young man never leaves the loft of his family home though he is a genius when it comes to the internet.

The novel races between the USA and Somalia with detailed subplots involving warlords, pirates and special forces.

Forsyth has an intense knowledge of all he writes of which is ever evident.

Frederick Forsyth is at his best in this novel and shows the true mastery he has attained through skill and exceptional hard work.

Don’t miss out on this one.

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Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett

Eye of the needle by Ken Follett

Eye of the needle by Ken Follett

The Eye of the Needle is a WWII spy thriller written by Ken Follett. The fiction novel was first published in 1978 by Penguin and was originally called Storm Island. This book was Follett’s first success and in 1979 he won the Edgar Award for Best Novel from the Mystery Writers of America.  The novel was made into a film in 1981 with Donald Sutherland.

During WWII the Allies tried to convince the Nazis that the D-Day landings were to be at Calais and not in Normandy. They made up a fictitious First United States Army Group (FUSAG) to this end, with fake tanks, buildings and dummy radio traffic to give the impression of an army ready to land at Calais.   In 1940 London Henry Faber is a German spy, called the needle, die Nadel’ in German, named for the stilleto knife he uses to kill people. Faber kills his landlady after she catches him making a radio call to Germany. The novel tells of David and his wife Lucy. He is an ex-RAF pilot who is diabled and they have moved to Storm Island off the coast of Scotland.

MI5 has recruited or hanged all German spies except Faber who is very cunning.  Godliman and his assistant Bloggs work for MI5 and are trying to catch him.

Faber is sent by the Nazis to check FUSAG is real and he finds in fact that it is a deception. Faber then heads to Scotland to rendevous with a German Uboat to escape with the information back to Germany. Faber is tracked to Scotland by MI5. After stealing a boat to get to the sub he is shipwrecked on Storm Island.   David and Lucy care for him but he kills David after he finds out about him being a spy. Lucy, who was unhappy in her marriage is getting out of the bath and about to put on her lingerie when Faber walks in and sees her naked. After this they fall for each other and Lucy sleeps with Faber Lucy finds her husband’s body and realizes that Faber has killed him.   Faber tries to radio the Nazis information about FUSAG but Lucy blows the electricity in the cottage to cut the radio. Unable to send a radio message and unable to kill Lucy who he now loves, Faber tries to escape down the cliff to swim to the waiting U-boat. Lucy throws a rock down on him and after one hits him he falls to his death.

The RAF then attack the Uboat. MI5 send a false radio message with Faber’s call sign to trick the Germans into believing that the invasion will be at Calais. Bloggs comforts the Lucy and then eventually gets married to her.

Ken Follett is an enthrawlling writer and I would strongly recommend his novels to you.

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There’s no escape by Ian Serraillier

Theres no escape by Ian Serraillier

Theres no escape by Ian Serraillier

Ian Serraillier  was born on 24 September 1912 and died on 28 November 1994. He was a British novelist and also a poet. Probably best known for his children’s books, he also wrote novels for adults such as There’s no escape which was published in 1956. . He was born in London and in 1918 his father died in the flu pandemic when he was six years old. He went on to be educated at Brighton College and next took his degree at St Edmund Hall, Oxford and becoming an English teacher.  He was granted conscientious objector status in World War II because he was a Quaker. His first children’s novel was published in 1946 and was quickly followed by several more adventure stories. His best known work,

In There’s no escape Maclaren, who is the chief of secret agents, arranged to parachute Peter into war-torn Silvania (nominally an unspecified county in the Balkans), where he was tasked with rescuing  Dr Helpmann before the enemy caught him and extracted information about his new discoveries. Peter agreed to go reluctantly.

This is a fast-moving adventure story by Ian Serraillier, set in wartime Europe with a dark cloud hanging over it. The book is an easy read which has a taut plot featuring parachutes, inventions and secret codes. One of the first books I ever read and many times since, re-read.

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The Salzburg Connection by Helen MacInnes

The Salzburg Connection by Helen MacInnes

The Salzburg Connection by Helen MacInnes

The story begins near to Salzburg, Austria, when a photographer called Richard Bryant dives into the Fintersee Lake, high in the mountains, to retrieve a large chest that had lain there for many years. Unknown to him, he is observed by others. This sets off a deadly chain of events.

Sometime later a lawyer, called William Mathison, to Bryant’s photography shop to ask about a photo book of the Austrian lakes that is said to be commissioned by Bill’s client, the publisher James Newhart. Anna, Bryant’s wife gives Bill correspondence from Eric Yates who previously claimed to be Newhart’s representative. Soon after Bill leaves, Anna’s brother Johann Kronsteiner is told, by family friend Felix Zauner, that Bryant has been killed in an accident. Bill finds that he is being followed. A desperate tale involving Austrian Intelligence, Mossad, Chinese Communists, CIA, Nazis and the KGB ensues. The secrets that lay hidden in the chest since the war were explosive.

This novel, by Helen MacInnes is one of my favourites. The start of the novel is very evocative and the suspense continues throughout the book. The story was written in 1968 and took inspiration from true life events. It had been suspected for many years that, near the end of the war, elite Nazis had trekked into the Austrian mountains and had hidden gold in the depths of many of the remote lakes. The most famous lake being Lake Toplitz which began to give up some of it’s secrets in the late 1950s as divers searched its depths.

A novel of high intrigue, spies and Neo Nazis and a very good read – particularly on a European skiing holiday on a dark night.

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