“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.
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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.
Michelle gripped her keys. She bolted into a full-out run, cutting the distance between herself and her daughter. She started to scream, but it was too late.
Ashley had run off, just like they had taught her to do. Which was fine, because the man did not want Ashley.
He wanted Michelle.
It begins with an abduction. The routine of a family shopping trip is shattered when Michelle Spivey is snatched as she leaves the mall with her young daughter. The police search for her, her partner pleads for her release, but in the end…they find nothing. It’s as if she disappeared into thin air. A month later, on a sleepy Sunday afternoon, medical examiner Sara Linton is at lunch with her boyfriend Will Trent, an agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. But the serenity of the summer’s day is broken by the wail of sirens. Sara and Will are trained to help in an emergency. Their jobs – their vocations – mean that they run towards a crisis, not away from it. But on this one terrible day, that instinct betrays them both. Within hours the situation has spiralled out of control; Sara is taken prisoner; Will is forced undercover. And the fallout will lead them into the Appalachian mountains, to the terrible truth about what really happened to Michelle, and to a remote compound where a radical group has murder in mind…
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Fast-paced, political and grizzly, ‘The Last Widow’, starts with a seemingly perfect abduction, as a missing scientist has disappeared without a trace. Then, the crime becomes personal when Sara- medical examiner from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is abducted, after responding to an apparent major incident.
The resurgence of neo-nazism is explored in this riveting, often graphically violent novel, its contemporary relevance adds to the story’s menacing quality. The thriller unfolds on two levels, the threat to society and democracy and the more personal threat of not finding Sara alive. The emotion in this story is as important, as the crime and action-filled scenes, and makes it a believable, albeit terrifying read.
I haven’t read any of the Will Trent series previously, but this reads well as a standalone. It does make you want to read the previous books in the series to find out more about Will and Sara.
This is not comfortable reading, but that doesn’t detract from the gripping plot, the relentless pace and the realistic characters that won’t let you put the book down. If you enjoy your crime thrillers focused on contemporary issues, without filters this story will appeal.
The world is on the brink of crisis. The Cold War is playing out once more on the global stage. And governments will do whatever it takes to stay at the top . . .
To those who don’t really know her, Kate Henderson’s life must seem perfectly ordinary. But she is, in fact, a senior MI6 officer, who right now is nursing the political equivalent of a nuclear bomb.
Kate’s most recent mission has yielded the startling intelligence that the British Prime Minister has cancer – and that one of the leading candidates to replace him may be a Russian agent of influence.
Up against the clock to uncover the Russian mole, Kate risks everything to get to the truth. But with her reputation to uphold, her family hanging by a thread and a leadership election looming, she is quickly running out of options, and out of time.
I received a copy of this book from Random House UK – Transworld Publishers via NetGalley in return for an honest review,
They say if you live long enough, everything returns, or at least reinvents itself in a contemporary format. The ‘Cold War’ returns in ‘Secret Service’, set in the present day. This is less about checkpoints and walls, and more about social media exploitation, and global corporations influencing domestic economies and the political agenda and players.
Kate is a senior MI6 officer, part of the Russian desk, but also a mother, wife and daughter, she is the new breed of secret service personnel and faces the 21st-century battle familiar to every professional woman of balancing their work and home life.The inherent danger in Kate’s profession is something she tries to minimise, but when she discovers a political time bomb, the danger to her family seems inevitable.
Believable and complex characters, particularly Kate, her partner and her immediate team, spearhead this action-packed, suspenseful story, which visits the political hot spots, as Kate tries to discover which politician is the probable Russian asset, and who in her own organisation is the double agent…
The suspects are few, but the propensity for misinformation is vast, and as the conspiracy deepens, Kate realises she is vulnerable and may lose everything she holds dear.
Authentically detailed with a contemporary political agenda and background, you can see this being a realistic scenario. The ending is menacing and will be unexpected for most.
Adrenaline-fueled, atmospheric and authentic, this is a riveting read, for anyone who enjoys political thrillers and the secret world of spies.
Dr Claire Peters flees her unfaithful husband, James, to work for The World Health Organisation in post-war Kosovo. Her husband follows, hoping for reconciliation. Both take lovers, she a French Captain in KFOR (Kosovo Force), part of UNMIK (United Nations Mission in Kosovo) he a beautiful Kosovar, wife of a senior member of the KLA (Kosova Liberation Army), catapulting both into a mix of Kosovo politics and criminality. Intimidation and murder in the mountains and then threats on the life of Claire climax in the capital, Pristina.
This book is a novel. It is a love story and a mystery. All the characters are fictitious but the description of war-torn Kosovo as seen through their eyes and the background to the events described are true. Robert Hedley was recruited by the World Health Organisation as a consultant on medical education and health service development in 2000. For ten years before the war, Albanian Kosovars were treated as second-class citizens, encouraged to emigrate, denied access to the University for Law, Medicine and other careers. In Medicine, a ‘Parallel System’ was established where Albanian Kosovar students were taught Medicine in private houses with no access to the University Medical School. WHO fast-tracked a new medical education system, upgrading the training of Kosovar doctors, including medical education techniques to train future doctors, using experienced doctors from across Europe and other parts of the world. A new system of Primary Care was developed with a new curriculum for Family Doctors as well as a new curriculum for some Secondary Care Specialists at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Eventually, several years later, The Royal College of General Practitioners in London recognised the postgraduate training and examination for Family Doctors in Kosovo as equivalent to the diploma of MRCGP INTERNATIONAL.
I received a paperback copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This story scores highly for originality and factual detail. It’s clear from reading this book that the author has first-hand knowledge of the political climate at the time, the setting and the ethos of Kosovo. This is an atmospheric, tense novel with vivid but not overly graphic imagery.
It’s a tale of two doctors, married but estranged through the actions of the husband. When his wife decides to leave the country and make a new start, he follows. His motivations for this are not entirely clear since he professes to love her but starts an affair whilst in Kosovo. Claire is easier to empathise, but neither character’s emotional states and motivation are fully explored.
The story is suspenseful and there are some passionate moments, but this story’s strength is in the authentic, detailed setting, action scenes and realistic plot.
A journalist must follow the clues, no matter how far that takes her.
Casey Benedict, star reporter at the Post, has infiltrated the lives and exposed the lies of countless politicians and power players. Using her network of contacts, Casey is always on the search for the next big story, no matter how much danger this might place her in, no matter what cost emotionally.
Tipped off by an overheard conversation at an exclusive London nightclub, she begins to investigate the apparent suicide of a wealthy young British man, whose death has left his fiancée and family devastated.
Casey’s hunt for the truth will take her from the glitz of St Tropez to the deserts of Libya and on to the very darkest corners of the human mind
I received a copy of this book from Bloomsbury Publishing -Raven Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A young investigative journalist follows a lead that suggests some unscrupulous rich people are hunting the forgotten humans – refugees, for kicks. The trail leads Casey and her fellow journalist Miranda to North Africa, to discover the truth.
This is a high octane, political thriller full of action and violence. The investigative journalist aspect of the story is realistic. The events Casey uncovers are disturbing.
The writing style is factual. The first part of the book is hard to read, but the second half is more dynamic and faster paced.
This story authentically explores the human cost of this tragedy and poses the journalist with believable moral dilemmas.