The new novel by acclaimed espionage author Paul Vidich explores the dark side of intelligence, when a CIA officer delves into a cold case from the 1950s-with fatal consequences.
In 1953, Dr. Charles Wilson, a government scientist, died when he ‘jumped or fell’ from the ninth floor of a Washington hotel. As his wife and children grieve, the details of the incident remain buried for twenty-two years.
With the release of the Rockefeller Commission report on illegal CIA activities in 1975, the Wilson case suddenly becomes news again. Wilson’s family and the public are demanding answers, especially as some come to suspect the CIA of foul play, and agents in the CIA, FBI, and White House will do anything to make sure the truth doesn’t get out.
Enter agent Jack Gabriel, an old friend of the Wilson family who is instructed by the CIA director to find out what really happened to Wilson. It’s Gabriel’s last mission before he retires from the agency, and his most perilous. Key witnesses connected to the case die from suspicious causes, and Gabriel realizes that the closer he gets to the truth, the more his entire family is at risk.
Following in the footsteps of spy fiction greats like Graham Green, John Le Carré, and Alan Furst, Paul Vidich presents a tale – based on the unbelievable true story told in Netflix’s Wormwood – that doesn’t shy away from the true darkness in the shadows of espionage.
I received a copy of the book from No Exit Press in return for an honest review.
A well-crafted conspiracy style political thriller, which has an additional poignancy because it is inspired by a true tragedy that happened in 1953, to a family member of the author. The story begins with the tragic event, seen from the tragedy instigator’s point of view. Its execution is the substance of many spy stories, but this one resonates because of the real-life personal connection.
A subsequent investigation in the mid-seventies provokes an internal investigation by the CIA, headed by an operative close to retirement, who is friendly with the victim’s family. The investigation throws up more questions than answers in the beginning, as those involved push-back. A turning-point is an unnamed source, who has the requisite information but won’t be identified.
There is a building intensity and menace, as the investigation progresses, implied rather than overt, but there. As the story gains momentum, the threat is implicit and Gabriel, the investigator realises his family is in danger because of his actions. The ending reinforces everything that has come before.
This thriller is written in a detailed, character-driven style that works well with conspiracy thrillers. The pacing is geared more to the absorption of events, rather than action. It is atmospheric and intense and portrays the paranoia in the intelligence world of 1950s USA believably. It is immersive and disturbing reading,
PAUL VIDICH is the acclaimed author of The Coldest Warrior (2020), An Honorable Man (2016) and The Good Assassin (2017), and his fiction and nonfiction have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, LitHub, CrimeReads, Fugue, The Nation, Narrative Magazine, and others. He lives in New York.
When Harry Mackintosh is called upon to exfiltrate a valuable asset from East to West Berlin, what could have been an intelligence coup becomes an international embarrassment. Mackintosh’s men and his lover are killed by the East German secret police in a brutal crossfire and he barely escapes with his life. He flees to the West and promises himself that he will have vengeance.
Mackintosh is the head of Berlin Station but he doesn’t have the staff to compete with the Stasi. He returns to London to plead for the resources to fight back. But instead of the seasoned operatives that he needs, Mackintosh is given a single man: Jimmy Walker, a petty criminal with a record for robbing banks.
Mackintosh takes Walker to Berlin and sets in train an audacious plan that will see them both on the other side of the Wall. Mackintosh and Walker face off against Karl-Heinz Sommer, the Stasi general known as die Spinne – the Spider – a man known for his brutality and ruthlessness.
The plan is already a longshot, and then Walker learns of the riches that Sommer stole from displaced Berliners in the days after the Wall was constructed. Will Walker follow orders or will he find the prospect of the Stasi gold in Sommer’s secret vault too tempting to ignore? Will Mackintosh have his revenge or will he become another fly caught in the Spider’s web?
With ambiguous loyalties, clashing agendas and danger beyond measure, these two men will struggle to form a team. But in a battle as unequal as this, the unexpected might be the best strategy that they have.
THE BERLIN WALL 9 November 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, one of the 20th Century’s most notorious structures. Built-in 1961 to divide East and West Germany, by the late 80s it was 156 km long with a 15m ‘death strip’ guarded by 11,500 border guards under shoot-to-kill orders. At least 140 people lost their lives at the Wall. The last in 1989 just months before it fell.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
An atmospheric spy thriller set in Berlin, in the months preceding the fall of the Berlin Wall.
A failed mission leaves Harry Mackintosh, damaged emotionally and professionally. He wants revenge, but will his bosses see the political expediency of his plan?
Jimmy Walker has more to recommend him, than his career as a safe breaker, but is he the man Mackintosh needs for this dangerous off the book’s mission?
The men form an unwilling partnership, in a deniable operation, which is both personal and professional for Mackintosh.The cast of characters are realistic, but there are no deep characterisations, perhaps reflecting the secret service operatives, lack of personal lives outside their career.
Fast-paced, this spy thriller effortlessly combines plot threads and delivers a believable, suspenseful story, that reflects the political tension at the time in Berlin. The plot has many layers, which are revealed by the main characters in different timescales.
The ending is well written and ties up the loose ends, whilst leaving avenues open for exploration, in further stories.
Absorbing, addictive and adrenaline-fueled, this story has authentic characters and an atmospheric historical setting.
Mark Dawson is an award-nominated, USA Today bestseller, with more than 20 books published and over 2 million books downloaded in multiple countries and languages. Mark was born in Lowestoft, in the UK. He has worked as a DJ, a door-to-door ice-cream seller, factory hand and club promoter. He eventually trained as a lawyer and worked for ten years in the City of London and Soho, firstly pursuing money launderers and then acting for A-list celebrities suing newspapers for libel.
But being a working mother is so much more difficult when you’re a secret agent for an underground branch of the security services.
Platform Eight have been tasked with tracking down and eliminating the traitor in MI6 who has been selling information to the highest bidder through a headhunting website for the criminal underworld that connects intelligence operatives with all manner of bad people with a simple right swipe. Deals get made. Secrets get sold. Missions fail, and agents die.
Lex’s own home life is not much easier. With a husband who rings her in the middle of a gunfight to complain she’s yet again forgotten to pick up his dry-cleaning, and a two-year-old daughter who has a newfound love of biting, surviving both the Terrible Twos and a traitor might just be too much for one exhausted mother to handle.
I received a copy of this book from Bonnier via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
More adventures, or misadventures of Lex and Platform eight. She’s tasked with finding a double agent in the secret services, and action and danger surround her.
Her home life is arguably more challenging. The mother of a two-year-old, she faces the terrible twos on a daily basis. Combining motherhood and being a spyleads to lots of drama and many humorous moments.
The plot is fast-paced and well written with twists, danger and delightful comic moments.The characters are vividly created but believable, and it’s easy to like Lex, themain protagonist.
Perfect escapism. A delightful mix of laughs and thrills, and parenting moments that are relatable for any parent.
Meet Louise Fawley – the newest, sassiest and
sleaziest agent in Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Follow Louise as she burgles and
bungles at Melusine Plastics, gets flirtatious and salacious in Vetchley
Castle, grows amorous and glamorous in Sainte-Modeste, and finally, hooks and
sinks her villainess on the superyacht Bonquonne.
In this delicious, light-hearted, randy romp, can
Louise solve the arcane mystery of La Ligne?
he Louise Fawley Symphony contains material of a sexually-explicit nature, so will not be to the taste of every adult reader.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
The blurb enticed me to read this book, The glamour, giggles and gratuitous sexual encounters I anticipated, but the frenetic pace was a surprise. I enjoy fast-paced fiction but at times this was too much.
Told from Louise’s point of view, she is a curious mix of reality superstar and an emotionally damaged adult who didn’t receive enough nurturing in childhood. Winning money, gave her a status that she never aspired to, even though she tenaciously worked her way up the corporate ladder. Self-esteem issues deny her insight into her true worth. I like her, and her perchance for crazy schemes, danger and scandal make her the perfect protagonist for a story of this type.
The plot is imaginative and quirky. Full of humour and sexy moments. The vivid imagery gives you a good sense of the settings, but the characters are not so well described.
Irreverent, original and steamy, try this if you are looking for something different.
After more than twenty-five years in accountancy, Rikki quit the profession to care for a parent whose health had deteriorated and to give more time to those interests and hobbies which had helped render accountancy almost bearable.
Rikki’s interests include all things historical, from castles to candlesticks, music of many genres, from Gregorian Chant to Brit Pop, and above all, like HE Bates, is happiest when working and whiling in a garden.
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
“I need your support. There is no one else I can trust. Please help her. Please help our daughter.” When ex-Marine Jack Ford receives a letter containing news of a daughter he never knew he had, he feels compelled to return to China, a country he hasn’t visited since 1989 when, as a young American spy, he fell in love with a beautiful student activist and found himself caught up in the horrors of the Tiananmen Square massacre. But why has Xia got in touch now, after a thirty-year silence? On arrival in Beijing, Jack finds himself accidentally in possession of an explosive piece of information both the Chinese and American governments are desperate to get their hands on. Alone in a strange city, suspected of being a traitor by his own side, not knowing whom to trust, Jack is faced with an impossible dilemma: should he save his new-found daughter or prevent a new world war from breaking out?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review
A perfect balance of adrenaline-led action and careful suspense building makes this political thriller, exploring the 21st-century cold war between China and the US, a gripping read. The contemporary placing of the action and the undoubted knowledge of the current political climate makes this a believable story. Reinforced with a complex, troubled protagonist, and a cast of realistically flawed antagonists and allies. The line between friend and foe is hard to draw in this novel, adding to the stories authenticity.
Jack Ford’s life changed in 1989 with the Tiananmen Square massacre, his subsequent military service has left him with PTSD, and a life that is an emotional wasteland. An unexpected plea for help from someone he once loved, has him travelling back to Asia, where he is embroiled in a battle between China and the US, with him as the fall guy.
This is a story of factions, misinformation, conspiracy, espionage and political wrangling. Jack is the lynchpin, to maintaining the status quo, and avoiding world war, but is the greater good worth the personal cost, for Jack?
There are some thinly veiled characters in this story, which add to its realism, the problems exposed are realistic, disturbing, and as you read on, you are invested in the outcome, because it feels so close to the world’s present-day crisis.
An easy to read, and fast-paced international thriller, with a strong espionage theme and astute political commentary.
Shamini Flint lives in Singapore with her husband and two children. She began her career in law in Malaysia and also worked at an international law firm in Singapore. She travelled extensively around Asia for her work, before resigning to be a stay-at-home mum, writer, part-time lecturer and environmental activist, all in an effort to make up for her ‘evil’ past as a corporate lawyer!
Shamini writes children’s books with cultural and environmental themes including Jungle Blues and Turtle takes a Trip as well as the ‘Sasha’ series of children’s books. She also writes crime fiction featuring the rotund Singaporean policeman, Inspector Singh. Singh travels around Asia stumbling over corpses and sampling the food …
They were preparing for decades – now it’s time to take them down.
When a British Diplomat is kidnapped in the heart of London, followed by a brutal double-assassination in Chelsea, MI5 braces for the threat of deep sleeper cells coming alive.
Hiding overseas with a price on his head, Sean Richardson is tasked to lead a deniable operation to hunt down and recruit an international model and spy. Moving across Asia Minor and Europe, Sean embarks on a dangerous journey tracking an Iranian spy ring who hold the keys to a set of consequences the British Intelligence Services would rather not entertain.
As Sean investigates deeper, he uncovers dark secrets from his past and a complex web of espionage spun from the hand of a global master spy. As he inches closer to the truth, the rules of the game change – and the nerve-wracking fate of many lives sits in his hands…….……..
Tense, absorbing, and insightful, The Kompromat Kill is a gripping thriller leaving you breathless at the pace of intrigue, cleverly unravelled in a dramatic finale.
This is the second book in your Sean Richardson Series. What inspired you to write this series, and this book in particular?
I was keen to follow up from my first novel, and provide a high-octane novel incorporating some of the same characters, but taking the storyline from the failsafe query, on a new journey but keeping the golden threads of the agencies, politics, and ground operators. Hopefully, it will be seen as an insightful step forward. The novel can be read as a stand-alone, or as a follow on from the failsafe query. Well, the golden thread of the series is all about fusing the geo-politick, espionage, and treachery taking place amongst the mysterious geographic locations and settings that the novel takes place in. It’s really all about fusing the inner sanctums of government and British secret intelligence taking place in London, with the overseas ground operations that Sean and the other characters undertake, and witnessing the conflicts that occur from a national and personal perspective.
Do you draw your characters from real life, your imagination, or are they a mix of both? How do you make your characters realistic?
Yes, they are all drawn from real-life characters, but a blend of numerous people I served with. Sean, the main character, for example, is based upon three individuals I served with as an intelligence and bomb disposal officer – It was great fun blending in some of the raw character of my friends, their foibles, and their rough edges. It was important to me that Sean did not become the tired ‘lone wolf’ superspy that you usually find in spy thrillers, but I wanted him to use his charisma and flair to lead a team of highly skilled forensics operators. Sean is a highly skilled professional, who pulls off his missions by selecting and leading the right team of people for the job. He is flawed, he makes mistakes, pays his dues and has to find ways to live with the extensive trauma his profession has caused him.
When you write, what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why do you think this is?
The first element I think of is the geopolitics of the day. For example, Then ‘Kompromat Kill’, is based on the ever-rising tensions of the US and Iran situation. ‘The Failsafe Query’, was based upon the ever-increasing influence that the Russians are having on western society, but both gave a nod back to the cold war too, and some underlying subplots that affect the main characters personal lives. I then look at the angle that provides real conflict and a mission to be achieved against skilled antagonists within the world of espionage. Then, I fit the characters as a team, to set out on the journey to achieve the mission, most often as deniable operations that cannot be attributed to the government of the day. It’s fun putting the plots and subplots together but takes months to get them right before I even start writing!
What made you decide to become a writer and why does this genre appeal to you?
The genre appeals because I can draw upon my own experiences in the military to craft a story that is perhaps authentic and insightful, making use of modern-day cyber technology and spy tradecraft that utilises a range of technologies including geo-forensics. I was getting too old to keep climbing mountains as a hobby, so my wife encouraged me to finish off a novel I wrote some years ago – and make my journey as an author into retirement taking different risks in life!
What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?
I very much like thrillers and spy thrillers in particular – I love the intrigue and can often relate to the missions, the conflict, the tensions and the stories.
What’s the best thing about being a writer and the worst?
The best thing is simply telling a story! I enjoy telling stories socially over a wine, relaying past experiences and fun, and my children love when I tell them stories too. To use your imagination and draw upon your own past experiences to make up dramatic new stories is the best – it really is great fun. The worst part for me is getting into a set rhythm once I start writing the story – and actually find the time when I have a busy life, a family, and jobs that need doing at work and at home!
What are you currently writing?
I haven’t started writing the third yet, but I have the framework of a plot that involves the resurgence of Al Qaeda in the Maghreb and how they will target Europe. Sean and the gang will undertake deniable operations as weapons runners, linking in with the middlemen who are supplying the terrorists across the Sahel, Mali, and sub-Sahara – The conflict will be the Russians involvement, and Sean will have to be sharp to stop devastation on home soil.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Spy thrillers are always intriguing, and especially ones written with insider insight and contemporary relevance. ‘The Kompromat Kill’, the second in the Sean Richardson series is a good example of everything that draws me to this genre.
The story is complex, but clearly written and has many twists, throwing up more questions than answers as it progresses, until the adrenaline-fuelled climax which ties up all the loose ends, and reveals all.
All the characters are believable, even if you have never encountered similar individuals, and Sean is a valid hero, because of his flaws and humanity. The author’s knowledge of the organisations and hierarchy means that this story avoids being cliched and remains relevant and realistic.
Even though this is part of a series, it reads well as a standalone, with the necessary backstory available for the new reader. This is my first Michael Jenkins novel but I eagerly look forward to number 3.
I started climbing at 13, survived being lost in Snowdonia at 14, nearly drowned at 15, and then joined the Army at 16. Risk and adventure were built into my DNA and I feel very fortunate to have served the majority of my working career as an intelligence officer within Defence Intelligence, and as an explosive ordnance disposal officer and military surveyor within the Corps of Royal Engineers.
I was privileged to serve for twenty-eight years in the British Army as a soldier and officer, rising through the ranks to complete my service as a major. I served across the globe on numerous military operations as well as extensive travel and adventure on many major mountaineering and exploration expeditions that I led or was involved in.
I was awarded the Geographic Medal by the Royal Geographical Society for mountain exploration in 2003 and served on the screening committee of the Mount Everest Foundation charity for many years. It was humbling after so many years of service when I was awarded the MBE for services to counter-terrorism in 2007.
The Failsafe Query is my debut novel, with The Kompromat Kill, my second.
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
We’re spies,’ said Lamb. ‘All kinds of outlandish shit goes on.’
Like the ringing of a dead man’s phone, or an unwelcome guest at a funeral . . .
In Slough House memories are stirring, all of them bad. Catherine Standish is buying booze again, Louisa Guy is raking over the ashes of lost love, and new recruit Lech Wicinski, whose sins make him outcast even among the slow horses, is determined to discover who destroyed his career, even if he tears his life apart in the process.
And with winter taking its grip Jackson Lamb would sooner be left brooding in peace, but even he can’t ignore the dried blood on his carpets. So when the man responsible breaks cover, at last, Lamb sends the slow horses out to even the score.
I received a copy of this book from John Murray via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
‘Joe Country’, is book six, of the ‘Jackson Lamb’ series, and the first that I’ve read. The character relationships are complex, and clearly, they have a lot of history. The thriller is standalone, and after a few chapters, it is easy to understand what the occupants of ‘Slough House’, are. Then relax, and enjoy a well written, political thriller, with satirical humour, flawed, quirky characters and an exciting twisty plot.
‘Slough House’, is the stable for the ‘Slow Horses’, disgraced intelligent operatives that have been put out to grass. Whether their misdemeanours are contrived or real, is not always apparent, but they are remarkably active in the field. Often preventing more incidents, and solving more crimes, than their ‘Regent’s Park’ officially sanctioned counterparts (Joes’)
The prologue to this story intrigues and is described in a particularly evocative, graphic way. The incident in Wales is significant as the plot progresses, and the seemingly disparate threads are melded together.
A new promotion at ‘Regent’s Park, the death of an old spy, a new recruit at ‘Slough House’, and the mysterious disappearance of a deceased ‘Slow Horse’s’ son, are all elements of this complex mystery. Each story is interspersed with the others, although it is not until the book has progressed that the dots to join up in Wales, of course, and the excitement begins.
‘Jackson Lamb’, whose name graces the series, is ‘old school’, politically incorrect, offensive to everyone he encounters, but also canny and clever, and an eminently efficient spymaster, despite his appearance and demeanour.
Action-packed adventures, believable, characters, clever plotting, dark, politically astute humour all make this an addictive, enjoyable book to escape with for an hour or two.
If you can read the series from the beginning to fully appreciate the political astuteness, relationships and setting of this quintessentially, British espionage thriller series.